Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I feel old.

When I talk about myself, I realize I am describing myself as a 67 year old, rather than a 37 year old. I think of myself living ten more years, perhaps, rather than forty, fifty and beyond. I feel, like I have for the last three years, on the downward slope of life, like Sisyphus, chasing after a fucking boulder with my cane and bad attitude. Grief aged me.

Thirty-seven for one more day, that is. Tomorrow, as the meteors shoot across the night sky, I will turn 38 years old. It is my birthday. That is a meaty number, full of round contemplations and strength, but I feel weak and flat. Old and crumbly.

I have a friend who is 86. I talk to him every week. If I wasn't married, I'd ask him to wed me, to take me as his bride. Handsome and smarter than anyone I have ever known. He is also the lightest person I know--perpetually laughing with a revolution under his smile. He is serene and peaceful and ready to rumble. He pretends to punch younger men, and they flinch. He bounces up off his seat to hug me in a giant bear hug that makes me feel important and beautiful. He makes me feel 37, a number much older than 86. I listen when I am near him. I stop and hear. Take his words into me, swoosh them around inside the newness of my 37 years. I know nothing. I am just a kid.

He said to me, "Hell, I'm only 86. I have forty more years of this myself." He laughs a gigantic guffaw whose gravitation pulls us into his orbit. I want to learn. I want to talk to him. I want to shine in his night sky, and radiate off of him. He tells me of fighting institutions and challenging bishops and his vow of poverty twenty years earlier. I want to be young like him. I want to know when to fight, when to stop, when to listen, when to speak. I want to intuitively grasp something other than my own ass.

I condemn myself to senility, a bent-over life, a stick in my hand, searching for firm ground, a place to find footing. At 37, I sit and live. I need to run. Or walk, or change, I mean. My husband and I head out in forty degree weather toward the Appalachian Trail to walk. My mother has the children. We want to walk together, to say goodbye to 2011 in a way that is quiet, meditative, together. We are entering a new year in our marriage, we hope. Perhaps we will be cold, we say, perhaps we shouldn't go.

We will be cold for a moment, then that too shall pass.
We will be uncomfortable, and then that too shall pass.
We will find our rhythm, and then that too shall pass.
We will be happy, and then that too shall pass.
We will be 37, and then that too shall pass.

I set my alarm this morning for 3 am tomorrow. When the stars dance, meteors shooting across the sky, when I can make wishes all night. I will wish for that which I cannot speak--youth, revolution, strength, roundness of spirit. For my children to never feel old, for me to love right where I stand right when I am standing in it.

I bounce up, stand in horse position, the fighting stance. All fisticuffs to the sky:

Come on, Universe. Wanna fight? I only have another hundred years of this.


  1. Happy birthday and beautiful post! Remember it's just a number!

  2. Oh my... the appalachian trail is very high up on my To-See list. Good to know you live close... if I ever make it, I come walking by your house.

    Hope you'll have a fabulous night with plenty of stars, meteors, loves and laughs. All the best to you! xo

  3. xoxoxoxoxoxooxoxoxoxoxo's a million times over for your birthday, Ang!! I *feeeeeel* this post within my bones -- i know ya know... xoxoo

  4. Have a beautiful birthday Angie, you deserve to. x

  5. Another beautiful post Angie. I think grief has aged me too, all of the anxiety and tears and anguish does a number on my body. I see pictures of my life before Margot, just ten months ago, and I can practically feel the differences in my body, mind and spirit.

    I have spent many days and nights walking and sleeping on the AT, too many to count. I hope you find some solace out there in the woods, some strength in the trees, some wisdom on that narrow rocky path.

    Lots of love,


  6. I, too, am 37, will be 38 in March, at which point I will also be almost 8 months grieving my twins. You perfectly described the way I feel...old, spent, wasted, useless. Tired.

  7. So much of this rings absolutely true, Angie. And I don't think it's just because I'm 37, too - it's hard not to feel old when you have outlived your child.

    But I have to believe it is possible to reclaim some energy and fight and eagerness, and I hope 38 is a full, strong, young year for you. Happy Birthday! May it be a good one, may you run and walk and fly and may all your wishes come true.

  8. I loved your story about your friend...he sounds incredible. Hopefully, the time spent with him can give you that extra jive in your step that you are looking for. Have a beautiful birthday...sweet, wonderful you. ((Hugs))

  9. Happy birthday! And to your sister too. :)

  10. "I have learned rapidly in the school of anguish this week and am many years older than I was a few days ago."

    Robert L. Dabney, 1855, upon the death of his two sons

    Your friend sounds wonderful. This afternoon, I went to a funeral honoring my 100-year-old friend, Irene. Anyone skipping what so-called elderly people have to offer is REALLY missing the marrow.

    Irene makes me feel a whole lot better about my own march towards elderly-dom. If I end up anything like her, it will certainly be worth leaving youth behind. Glad to do it.

    Happy Birthday to you, Still Life Angie.

    With love,

    Cathy in Missouri

  11. Happy birthday
    I feel older now than I am too, physically, though the number still catches me off guard, it just doesn't sound right.
    Wishing you a year (and many more) of loving where you stand.

  12. Happy Birthday, Angie! I am 38 for only three more months. Losing Nathaniel has certainly aged me, and not as gracefully as I had planned.

    This year, as you are 38, may your mouth open wide, touching the roundness of the age, in laughter, in eating exquisite foods, and in enlightening conversations.

  13. Oh how heavy a load grief can be. How it breaks us down and cripples us. 6 months out I feel old, I look old, tired...so tired, fatigued run down. 35 going on 135 yes? I would tell anyone else in the "real" world that 38 is a spring chicken. So young. So much life to be had... But those of us who's child has died. We are old. We have sufferred a lifetimes worth of sorrow. I often think of the men and women who survived WWII. So many went on to have families and long, very long lives. It is amazing to me. Does the grief makes us more resilient or does it break us down before our time. I worry about the stress of my loss on my health and longevity. Another layer of loss that pusses me off. Maybe you can go and be a radiance sucking vampire and leach some of that 86 year old's exuberance. I hope your birthday is filled with hundreds of shooting stars. Go look in the mirror. This is you at 37 and you are beautiful.

  14. Happy birthday, Angie! : ) If it gives you any comfort, you are a spring chicken in my almost-51-year-old eyes (my birthday is next week, fellow Capricorn). Some days I feel every minute of those 51 years (& stillbirth & infertility most certainly had a lot to do with that); other times I can't believe that I am this old. I look at the fine lines and sunspots on my face in the mirror & wonder, how did this happen??

    But, as my wise grandma once said, "It's better than the alternative...." lol. Have a great day & a wonderful year.

  15. Happy (belated) birthday, Angie. Your friend sounds amazing and may the next 100 years be full of love and life and joy.

  16. happy Birthday my dearest friend

    lots of love
    xxoo Ines

  17. Late to the "birthday" party, but I wanted to say I loved this post. I hope your birthday was full of fun things and meaningful moments.

  18. Happy Belated Birthday! I agree with you - grief has aged me as well. I look in the mirror, or at photos of myself before and after Kara's death, and although it's been 3 years, I look 10-15 years older.


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