Dear Laura Wade,
This weekend I turned 59. Something about 5-9- and actually all the “9’s” have been the most difficult age for me. But this one is turning out to be the harder than the others. 59 puts me one step closer to 60. And 60 carries with it so many stigmas, not just in my own heart but in the world. I’ve already begun to notice my disappearance from view, but approaching 60 takes on a whole new “insignificance.”
So, I just wanted to try and sort some things out with someone I trust, who won’t feel sorry for me or try to make me feel better by giving me positive examples of all the older women who have made a difference, but will let me grieve and struggle through this process. So, thank you ahead of time for your face and your soul.
In January this year, two men at a ski resort who were my age flirted with me and I relished in it. I gave them a hug, thanked them, and fully engaged their enjoyment of my beauty. Because that doesn’t happen anymore... ever. I don’t turn men’s heads, I have wrinkles, a puffy face, extra weight around my middle and lumps everywhere. And I miss FEELING like I am beautiful. I miss feeling like I matter…Really, in a large group, if young and energetic people are present, their voices get heard. I don't want to work so hard to matter and to convince others that my existence is important...I can be tempted to that. I want to accept how this works, but feel so ill-equipped.
And the truth is, I AM getting older and I am afraid. 59 has asked me to sit with age and let the full ramifications of what it means sink in. I never thought I would be this old. And, honestly, I miss my 30 year old body and mind. I’m turning very grey...and not even a pretty grey, but a mousy dull grey, which can be covered, gratefully by highlights.
I worry about when and if Wes will die before me. I worry about being alone. And because the skills I have built over a lifetime are relational and creative, I feel inadequate to handle finances, bills, and “the real world” if something were to happen to him. So, what in the hell do I do with the next 20 years of my life? How do I settle into age? How do I trust Jesus in all of this? I always feel pressured to have a happy ending to these grief fests, but right now I’m just sad and a little lost b/c what I am saying IS true. The world is no place for the elderly.
At this age, I also know I feel more sane and less frenetic. I feel more comfortable saying what I think and saying no without defending. I look back on my life and have absolutely no regrets. And I enjoy my husband so much AND the sex! So, I guess those are pluses to getting older. I don’t know how I would even attempt “old” if it weren’t for Jesus, though. I have to believe he’s got this. That no matter my age or mental state, he says I am beautiful and cared for: beloved. And I’m thankful for our pastor who sees value in all the age groups and giftings. But the world does not seem so kind. And the world seems so loud right now.
Thanks you for listening and letting me grieve...