I've had so many people ask me how I feel about turning 40 and, frankly, I'm kind of tired of the question. I know there are some out there who don't handle it well and I guess I get it a little. But for the most part, it's awesome. I'm very excited to be able to say I'm 40 and not almost 40. And if you really want to get down to it, it's pretty great to say that I'm in my early 40s and not my late 30s.
Glass half full, people.
It's all about perspective. I was sitting at a funeral with my sister, a financial planner, and a friend who works in hospice. The hospice nurse said she was sad to be 50 years old because she only had 20 years left. My sister looked at her like she was crazy.
"What are you talking about?" she said.
"If you see what I see every day, you'd know we only live until we're around 70," my friend replied.
"Well, if you see what I see every day you should know you should plan to live until you're 95," my sister said.
This is actually a big milestone year for me. Not only did I turn 40, my 20th wedding anniversary is coming up (and in the middle of that, the nine year anniversary of my husband's death).
I didn't realize how brilliant I was back when I was 20 to get married that same year. It makes it so easy to figure out which anniversary it is. For someone who hates to do math, this is a big deal. If he really wanted to make it easy on me, he would have picked a more even year to die - as the years go on that's going to be harder and harder for me to figure out.
Anyway. Twenty years.
I don't know if other widows do this, but I truly wonder where we would be right now. I feel kind of alone in this thought because most of what I see on social media are the highlight reels of relationships. I see a lot of how perfect someone was or how amazing their relationship was.
When I had...well...a marriage.
It wasn't perfect. Actually, maybe in its own way it was. I've tried to redefine my definition of perfect - I don't think that means 100% happiness or fulfillment. It might just mean that the ups and downs we encounter are what we are supposed to experience.
And in that way...it's perfect.
But I do wonder - would we be happy if he was still here? What growing pains would we have gone through? And the scariest thought - would we still be together?
I know that's a little dramatic, but haven't we all experienced moments in our marriages when we wonder if it's worth it?
I know I did.
There are moments when all I can think of is how completely happy we were as a family. Then there are moments when I want him right in front of me so that I can apologize for all of the times I drove him crazy. The moments when I wish he could apologize to me are fewer because I'm easier to blame.
After all. I'm still here.
I don't know why it bothers me so much. I just wish I could know, don't you? Like some sort of parallel universe where we could get a glimpse of what things would be like if our spouses were still here. Would it make us feel better to know that we would have been unhappy? Better to know that we would have gotten through all of the bumps of the first 20 years of marriage only to emerge stronger and more in love?
I don't know.
I guess it's probably better that I don't. What good would it do me in this life, the one I'm living right now? All I can do is move forward with the knowledge that I had a good/bad/imperfect/perfect marriage for 11 years.
That is, until we meet again and he has a chance to tell me otherwise.
Can you hold a grudge in the afterlife?