Had I known my 60th birthday would be so grand, I'd have had it sooner. I have been deluged with attention, affection and affirmation. And you thought AAA was an auto club! Nothing was spared nor overlooked.......presents presented, surprises sprung, traditions honored, new ones initiated ....... I've been anticipating this milestone with mixed feelings, as we all do on those "special" birthdays. But my family and friends have made it seem great fun to become old.
I'd never been one of those neurotic people who fret over the passage of time. I'd been more intrigued than disturbed. In earlier days, every season of life seemed richer and more fulfilling, forming me into the mature, gracious woman I thought I would eventually become.
Then came the ridiculous 50's, the decade from.......well, not exactly Hell, but close.....maybe Alabama. Sorrow upon sorrow, then regrouping, forging and trying to reimagine; an uphill climb I would have thought I was prepared for but, like so many Everest hopefuls, I found the elements severe and spent much of the decade shivering and just wishing for a warm fire.
Not only losing my husband, but losing my favorite hormones and all the little perks they provided, like smooth skin and sanity. My greatest comfort comes from hearing my peers shamefully confide that they, too, left the stove on when they went to Publix or found their car keys in the fridge. Every post- menopausal woman knows what I'm talking about. And you men aren't much better. Just the other day my brother told me.........nah, I'd better not say.
On the Saturday before my birthday, Leah took me to Cirque Du Soleil in Orlando. You probably know that it was amazing. The aerial Red Ribbon Man was my favorite, with muscles so pronounced I'm sure he could stay aloft just by flapping them. I know he was looking for me in the audience as he sailed angelically heavenward, reaching out to me with a pointed index finger like that guy Michelangelo painted inside the Sistine Chapel. I'm anticipating one of those flying dreams sometime soon and in it, I'm going to levitate off my seat at the circus and float into the arms of Red Ribbon Man. I'll look down at myself and see that I'm in my underwear (because this kind of dream demands it) yet covered in dozens of red ribbons binding me for life with my soaring prince. Bring on the Ambien!
I believe there's a longing in each of us to be attached to someone else ("no man is an island" and all that). Sometimes I feel the romantic side of that longing (like when I see the RRM in all his "lust"erous glory), and I feel left out of the mainstream of coupled-up love. It's easy to give in to self-pity and wish for what I don't have. There are times when lonely feels....just too lonely.
Then comes Trapeze Man to save the day! Flying through the air with the greatest of ease, he triple somersaulted with some twisty bravado followed by "where are the hands that are supposed to catch me" and then ................he fell. You could hear the collective gasp of horror and disbelief. It seemed like slow motion...down, down into nothingness....and then....the net. Big net. Everyone exhaled.
Christians believe there is no oblivion, there is no hard thump at the end of life, only a soft bounce or two and then.....on to the next thing. For Ross, it's a new level of existence hidden in mystery from us earth dwellers. He has been gently lifted from the net and carried quietly to a place of ultimate compassion and healing. For me and Trapeze Man, it's another awkward climb out of the net and back up the ladder, another chance to practice the craft of living that so often foils us and leaves us looping in the air, disoriented and out of breath.
Trapeze Man made another go of it and this time found his mark and swung triumphantly back to base. And I also am making my go, swinging into a new decade, sometimes a little frantic (like last night when water started pouring from my ceiling from the AC unit), sometimes pissed off that there are apparently no arms strong enough to grab me (or you) out of this season of quasi-dementia and wrinkling.
But knowing I am not alone. We are all trapezing together, young and old, soaring gallantly through the years, some wearing flashy red ribbons, some....just underwear. But all together.