When the invitation came it sounded like a blast: a family wedding in Cambridge, Maryland in the beautiful home and garden of our cousins. We knew the celebration would be fantastic. But when it came time to go, all I could think was, “If only I could stay home this weekend, I could get so much done.” I felt frazzled, thread-bare, worn and unfocused. If only I could stay home and catch up.
I would tell you all things I wanted to do, but frankly, I’ve totally forgotten about what I was frazzled. All I can say is that I went from a world where I felt it was “all cancer, all the time,” to one where we were eating crabs with all the cousins and spraying one another with flying shells and laughing and drinking and proposing toasts and reminiscing about the generation before us which is all gone now and realizing that we, yes, us, were up now as the “leaders” in the family, the older generation, but we all felt like lost children and wanted so badly to have another line of family in front of us.
But it was not to be.
I think about death a lot because I work in the cancer field and I’ve had cancer and I’m starting to promote my book so people are asking me questions about dying and death. But this wedding (which was a family reunion of sorts, as all weddings are) made me think about death in a nostalgic, wistful way as opposed to a medical way. Perhaps it is because the elders in my husband’s family did not die of cancer, but died at pretty ripe ages of pneumonia, Alzheimer’s, a heart condition. So far no one in his family has died of cancer. How refreshing. I actually forgot that people do die of “old age.”
So our flower girl is now a married career woman and a mother of two. Her daughter was the flower girl in this wedding. Time seems to circle back on itself and I found myself thinking a hundred times throughout the weekend, “How can this be?” Because of course I still feel like I’m thirty-two, the age at which I entered this family.
But when I sat in our hotel room putting on my make-up in the bright sunlight I realized with a shock that I did not have the face of a thirty-two year old. And I had to remind myself that this is what is supposed to happen: you age.
The fountain of youth is in Seattle because it is usually overcast and without all that nasty harsh sunlight, you can’t see how old you really are.
But one of the great things about aging is that you just don’t care so damn much about what everyone thinks. How else can I explain why, after working out at an Orlando hotel last month, I jumped into the pool in my athletic bra and panties? There was nobody there and my panties were brightly colored and just how different are they from those nearly transparent Speedos that men wear?
I rest my case.