What I mean by that is that I’d pretty much earned my 40 years with all that I’d been through, including the pre-term labor, the colic (both babies), and the moment a gold 1972 Buick Electra ran a red light and plowed into the side of my Mustang GT.
But today, seven years since 40, I am a million years-0ld.
About a hundred of that came from all I’ve endured since my 40th birthday, including cancer, chemo, and radiation, and a separation and a divorce, and spending Christmas morning at the animal hospital with my kids and my beloved cat Benny, who was suffering from post-surgical complications.
The rest came from the hard work of processing all that and then some — some of it I don’t even, can’t even, share. It’s from pulling up a chair and sitting with that sad/angry/fearful/resentful/weak/furious/grieving/worried/terrified/miserable part(s) of me that, before 40, I’d likely have stuffed somewhere deep inside. I’d have told it to go away or worse, I’ve have told it how it should feel. For 40 years, I “should” all over myself.
But not today. Today, I am a million years-old. Yoda years. Excruciating, exceptional years where I’ve done — and keep doing — the hard emotional excavating that’s necessary to move forward. The work that changes relationships, strengthens relationships, and loses relationships, because when you do the work, that sometimes has to happen. That’s why it’s the work no one wants to do.
But when you’re living on borrowed time, or “overtime” as this soccer coach prefers to think of it, you have to do the work or else you will most certainly lose years. Yoda years and real years.
When I had cancer at 40 and achieved remission at 41, I didn’t think past 46. I just wanted to hit the five-year, all-clear mark, because five years in remission for my kind of cancer means “cured.” Looking beyond that was like the Mayans planning out 2013; it just wasn’t conceivable. And frankly, it seemed a bit presumptuous.
Yet now I’m here — and I mean here, on Earth — on my 47th birthday, and I’m a million years-old. I’m in overtime, or as a dear friend who has also racked up the Yoda years in a headscarf told me this morning, “I prefer to think of it as a mistake corrected.”
Indeed, it’s a do-over, and I resolve to do the ugly, angry, awful parts over with wisdom and empathy. Without them, I am 47. With them? I am a million years-old, and counting.