“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” -George Eliot
This quote with it's accompanying reflection was in my inbox today. Very fitting to receive this as I have been thinking a lot about time and who I am and who I want to be since my birthday passed this weekend. I turned 42 this year. This is not a 'big' birthday but for me, this year it holds much significance. When I reflect on the lives of my parents and look at my own life I realize that I am 'half way' there. I am now in the second half of my life. I am truly middle aged. It is a lot to take in and process.
Recently a blogger friend hosted a contest. The contest focussed on change and how each of us can be forever changed by a moment, event, thought etc. I thought about participating in this contest and knew exactly what I would write but couldn't bring myself to write the essay. Now, after my birthday I think I can write the words that started to bubble up mid February in response to this challenge.
Every person is capable of change and being changed, but forever changed is a different story. Thinking of all that has happened in my life I could easily say that I have been forever changed by marrying R, giving birth to my children or by going through the death of both of my parents. Any of those statements would be true. I think that using any of these examples would be the easy and expected answer to the forever changed question. Taking the easy way out has never been in my character.
During the months prior to Dad's death I was completely and irrevocably changed by one singular realization. After one of my regular afternoon visits with Dad I felt especially vulnerable and as I sat with my feelings and thoughts it came to me and hit me like a ton of bricks... I am mortal, I am going to die too and someday I will leave behind my family. This basic fact of humanity had never truly occurred to me before. I had dealt with death on many occasions: beloved pets, extended family, peers, and parent. Why had it never sunk in that my fate was exactly the same? I don't know. I guess there is a level of self-preservation that serves to protects our psyche. When I finally realized my own mortality that afternoon I felt sick to my stomach, sad, frightened and panicky. I began to spiral into a full fledged panic attack. When I finally came back into my own body I realized that I had an opportunity. I can choose how to live my life. Time is too precious to live mindlessly. The moment when I realized my own mortality was the moment I was born again. Born into the life of my own making. No more excuses only choices. I am in control and can choose who I want to be. It is not too late. I have the second half of my life ahead of me and plan to live it gracefully, mindfully with love in my heart. I have been forever changed and am grateful.