Today I attended a memorial service for a friend’s son who died from a drug overdose. He was in his early twenties and had recently been diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. This is not the first time I have heard this type of tragic news. I imagine the same is true for many of you.
The first time we went to the town of Duck on the Outer Banks of North Carolina was during the summer of 1986. I was pregnant with my first child. My husband and I fell in love with the wide soft beaches, the absence of crowds, and the ocean water that was so much warmer than what we were accustomed to in New Jersey.
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma in November 2010, I made a promise—to myself, to G-d, to the universe. I vowed that if I were to make a complete recovery, I would never, ever, ever again sweat the small stuff, or be rattled by petty annoyances. I also pledged to use all my senses to experience life on a visceral level, rather than going through the motions in a preoccupied, disconnected state.
When I was growing up, my family ate dinner together every night. Yes, that’s right. Every. Night. Much of the meal was “Comedy Hour.” My father, a civil engineer, worked with someone who had an apparently endless supply of jokes. You’re probably not surprised; engineers have a legendary reputation for their wacky sense of humor.
“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.”
So…what the hell did happen? I am 63 years old, and each day it feels more and more as if someone changed the rules while I wasn’t paying attention. My friends and I discuss it, well, pretty much all the time. We are bemused, bewildered and, yes, a little bit afraid. The world feels as if it is constantly shifting under our feet and we just can’t seem to find our balance. We used to feel on top of the world. Now we feel irrelevant.