Good Lord. 40 tomorrow - which seems wholly impossible since I was just 16 five minutes ago. I swear.
I've decided to start the celebration early. I'm finishing up a glass of baco noir (yeah, blogging whilst drinking) and enjoying the gentle wine-y buzz of a late afternoon tipple. Although I may have just swallowed a fruit fly. I don't care, but I might have.
And speaking of birthdays...
The thirties were, to be perfectly honest and rather blunt, one long and horrific bloodbath of a decade. Seriously, from 33 on. I'm glad to be rid of them. With the exception of marrying My Beloved, the 30s were the worst 10 years I've ever known. The 30s taught me that my body is thoroughly and completely inadequate - that it won't support life. The 30s brought me the greatest sorrow I have ever known, and with it the incurable and lifelong plague of endless guilt. And a crisis of confidence too. One that seems to leach into every area of my life.
The 30s were a bitch.
I became a mother, yes. And I am endlessly grateful for ever single second I had with Thomas. And I would do it all again for each one of those blissful moments.
But I am not the mother I intended to be. Let's not kid ourselves. This is not how it was supposed to be. This is not how it should have turned out, dammit.
Last night I got thinking about what it might be like if I find myself in my dad's situation one day: 80, hospitalized, desperately sick.
In the first few weeks of his illness, I kept saying how glad I was that our children would never worry the way I have - that they'd never find themselves lying prone on the floor, sobbing at the thought of me weak and confused in a hospital bed.
Because, of course, all our children are dead.
And still, I was comforted by the fact that they would be spared this anguish.
I know all the flaws in this logic. I do. Yeah sure, I won't be worrying my kids when I'm old and frail, but I also won't have had the benefit of all that extra love in my life. The extra life in my life.
Every time I go into the hospital I take my dad a coffee and a newspaper. Simple pleasures he can now, finally, enjoy. And I get him a fresh cup of ice water, clean up his room a bit and ask if there's anything else I can do. Anything else I can bring. Any other way I can make him more comfortable.
Last night it dawned on me that there will be no one who cares enough about me to do this when I'm old. We have nieces and nephews, of course, but they have parents. They are not obligated to act as surrogate children when we're old, and I would never expect them to.
And so I'm quietly tortured by the notion that I'm going to be all alone one day and no one will come to see me. No one will be there to get me a fresh drink or find me a warmer blanket or stroke my arm and tell me how much they love me.
This is what it means to have no children.
I realize people don't procreate in order to supply themselves with a nursing staff for later in life. But it's certainly one of the fringe benefits of growing people who love you - who would do anything for you, like I would do for my mom and dad. They will always love you, your children. They will always be there for you. Unless they're not. Unless they're dead.
So, friends, this is what the 30s brought me: fodder for my midlife crisis. Fueled by baco noir.
Happy birthday to me.