In the comments, Judith goes deep into what it means to be alive— not to be missed
I have a friend who at 63 was diagnosed with terminal lymphoma and given six months to live. By her own description, she looked at her husband of thirty-some years lounging on the couch and decided to leave him. As she explained it to me, after all the years of thinking about ending her marriage, she wasn’t about to spend her precious last six months confined by it. I remember marveling at her courage, her conviction, her what I now figure must have been the ultimate “If-not-now-when?” moment. I simply couldn’t imagine ever feeling that way. Who would hold her hand when she was ill; when she cried; when she died? I was 49, with a husband and two daughters ages eight and eleven, and the notion of doing anything drastic, making changes, going off on my own, was inconceivable. As it turns out, (true story) my friend’s diagnosis was incorrect. She remarried, moved to Florida, opened a gallery, has since moved to Colorado to be near her children and grandchildren.
Why does this come to mind in response to reading irishwitch’s diary? What strikes me about her thoughtful, open, sharing description of herself and turning 58, changes, thoughts on aging, etc., is a seeming lack of a need for any big deal “If not now, when?”. I envy what appears to be her contentment with her past, present and future. I’m 57 and I sometimes feel awash in “If not now, when?”, making big and little changes; contemplating others; measuring my time and considering possibilities; at the same time trying to stay the course and be clear on holding on to what is right and good.
In 1974, I started Transcendental Meditation. (It was the rage.) As part of the ceremony to teach me how to do it, in which I was to bring a fruit, a flower and a cloth to place on an alter, I was given my own special, secret mantra. (It turns out we all got the same mantra that day, but what of that.) I’ve used that mantra to meditate all these many years. It appears that it’s time for a change. Looks like I’ll be using “If not now, when?“ for a while.