140 days

In 140 days I will turn 40. Maybe because it marks another decade it has me in knots. Turning  10 was a big deal. I can remember fifth grade in detail. I was excited for junior high and looking forward to being more grown up. My 20s had 40 years of hope before me. I couldn’t see the finish line at all. The crest of the hill was all that was ahead of me and the anticipation of what was at the top of that was exhilarating. I still was itching with the thrill of making the world a better place. If idealism was electric; I probably could have powered a small city. I was ready to stop making everyone happy. My 20’s were going to be spent doing the things that made me happy. I was going to be a teacher and inspire change daily. 

At the end of my 20’s marriage and babies came. I spent the beginning of that decade wanting to make a difference, wanting to follow my own dreams and I would end that decade feeling like I had lost all that ground.

My kids were my purpose in my 30’s. Knowing I was going to give birth to 4 beings whose light was so much greater than mine, who the Earth needed so much more than me kept my own life secondary. Everything was for them, the job I chose, where we moved, getting pets, driving myself out of my shell so they could have a better example. My 30’s felt like a decade of compromise and concession. There was exponentional growth that occurred here which was odd because it is also the decade where I took the worst physical care of myself.

Now with a decade of placating and concession behind me I see 40 ahead to the end. To the light at the finish and it has me slowing down, grasping at stillness. My past following close behind like confederate statues, constantly reminding me of my transgressions. 

Yesterday, I took a walk and turning 40 kept haunting my thoughts. The thoughts I wrote above came to me then. And I spent the rest of the day working, parenting, driving kids here and there, back to school nighting and as I was headed to a board meeting I was filled with so much angst about getting older. I was in a major funk. I prayed for guidance and clarity. 

Driving down the road, I notice the two cars ahead of me. One is stopped and the other is turning around and as that second car u turns I see the accident. I pull over and jump out of my car. There are other helpers. Establishing that someone has called 911; I look to the bodies on the ground. “What can I do?” I ask the woman standing with one of the injured. She hesitantly sends me to a young man in the middle of the street, next to the broken car. He is so angry and I know trying to keep him still is going to be a chore. I keep talking to him. A woman who says she is a nurse comes running up, but barely inspects him and moves on. I keep talking with him and in what seems like decades, he finally calms and reaches out his hand. “Hold it.” He says.

I take his hand and he grabs mine fiercely; squeezing it in pulses which must match the pain criss-crossing his body. I let him know I won’t leave him until the paramedic gets to him. We sit like that as the amazing teams of first responders work like angels in the glow of headlights. I finally have to let go so the medic can assist him. 

When I am cleared by the officers, I am shaken and the tears start to fall. We never stop making a difference. There is no age limit on when life starts or stops. Our heartbeats are in each and every minute no matter what is ahead of us. We can choose to u turn away and go a different path or we can find our way through the wreckage, hold a hand and see life in all it’s angst and beauty. See how that all blends together to enrich our lives in ways we can’t imagine.

No matter what lies ahead of me, an age, an accident, a hand to hold I want to carve substance into my existence every day of my life and stop thinking there is some sort of marker that defines that. We can make a difference in each moment regardless of what decade it is. After last night, I have no doubt that I will always walk into the wreckage and hold the hand of the person in need. Age isn’t a marker or a definition and I am going to stop measuring my life with it because there are so many moments to come and that is far greater than 140 days.

Until next time,


8 thoughts on “140 days

  1. Very meaningful and beautiful. It is a new chapter in your life. Imbrace it.❤

  2. OMG! Sitting on a plane tears streaming down my face. You amaze me. Beautiful message. Superbly written. Astonishing experience. I love you more than you will ever know. The world is such a better place with you in it. Thank you for your lessons. Thank you for bringing home what is real. And that comes from a sixty year old that knows your many fellings and experiences. Keep writing. Keep sharing. Keep being Michelle!

  3. I have three comments 1) My dad always says about getting older: “it beats the alternative! ” 😉 It is the simple truth. 2) I have heard so many 40 – something-year-old women on talk shows and interviews say their 40s have been the best years of their lives… those bitches just better not be lying! 3) keep in mind that in 10 years you will probably wish you were 40 again, so do your future self a favor and enjoy it 🙂

    But in all seriousness… I know coming to terms with your mortality isn’t easy but just like everything in life for every pro there is a con and vice versa. Perhaps your 40s will be a decade of you getting to enjoy spending more time for yourself, getting to sleep all night, and not having to wipe other peoples butts all the time… I know you love being a mom but “doin a little you” might be just a little fun! I wish you a decade of FUN!

  4. Wow – this is stunning, Michelle! We keep getting the signals, the sign posts of what’s ahead. You are so much better at reading them than I was at your age! When I was nearing 40, I was convinced my life might just as well be over. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have realized that, like a great novel, life was just about to open! I now know enough to feel that way with every new decade that rolls over…another big BIG one this year, and I’ve embraced it with the joy that I wished I’d have been wise enough to feel when I was 40! A woman, my age, who is an absolute treasure was asked once by one of her piano students why she was “so old” – My friend’s response? “Because I am very, very lucky!” I say – Amen to that!!!

    1. Gale, thank you so much for your kind words. It means a great deal; you being such an eloquent and gifted writer yourself. I feel like I have moments of clarity, but I feel old a bit and defeated a bit. But last night was a game changer – I know the lives of those in the accident will forever be altered, but it changed me, too. Thank you for reading along! Sending you lots of love!

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