Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Death, loss, it is just part of turning 55 ...

Was talking with a friend and he said that about the time you turn fifty or so you need to accept that with greater frequency the people in your life will start dying or becoming incapacitated.

Early on in my life I had the misfortune of having a number of people who liked me very much and believed in me a good deal who were also at the end of their work (and often personal) lives.  In my late twenties and thirties I went through the loss of a number of mentor figures who died or failed before they ever got to mentor me (though they had successfully mentored many others).  Then I lost almost ten years with the deaths and moves and such.

I came back to awareness, so to speak, and now, about ten-fifteen years later I'm in that age group.  But people I know, or grew up with, or worked with are in the group who are dying or aging out.  Three suicides this year of people I had worked with or been in a group with. 

A number of people in my parents generation (people in their seventies) are dying or becoming disabled on a regular basis.  Lost my dad to Parkinsons not too long ago.

I experienced a lot of death and loss outside of its proper time in burying three children over five years. Now I'm starting to experience death and loss in its time and season.

It is happening just as I hit the next stage in grief recovery and become much more able to feel emotion.

In some ways, more than I ever did as before I began to experience grief, or recovery, I had distanced myself a great deal from emotion as I grew up.  It was so painful, most of the time.  The first real breakthrough I ever had in feeling emotion was in getting married when I was 29.

So now I'm 55.  People in my parents generation are dying or becoming disabled much more rapidly (and yes, Suzette Haden Elgin is in her 70s, about the age of my mom).  I've blogged a little about some of the deaths that have touched my life this year, especially Raymond's passing.

Its funny, in a way.  When I went to my law school reunion a while back I sat and listened to   talk about all the people who had died.  It was only a sprinkling, but still, I listened.  Did not tell her anything about myself or my losses, that wasn't why I was there.  I was trying to hear and listen, and it was about what she had to say about my classmates, not about myself.

 But it is going from news of a scattering over a twenty-five year period to the steady drum beat of judges I've known and admired, friends and allies (some of whom died and I missed the news), people like John Tison who died suddenly of cancer (the week of his diagnosis or so) and who used to visit once a year when he was in town to serve as a marshal or judge at a golf tournament, and others.

It is just starting to sink in that this really is that time of life and will be for the next twenty or thirty or forty years (if I live that long).  That it is suddenly just a normal part of life.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

Life is so much more fragile than we realize. All the more reason to value the time we have.