“Don’t send me a card for my stupid, awful birthday,” She said. “I want to pretend that 50 forgot to stop by.”
“What’s wrong with you?” another friend snapped.
“My life is almost over,” our younger friend whined. “We are all at death’s door.”
“Death’s door?” I laughed. “Your life is just now getting started, silly girl.”
“My face looks like the twin of that ugly little dog that advertises Hushpuppy shoes,” she sniffed. “I can tie my long boobs in a knot.”
“One day soon, you won’t care about that stuff,” I said.
Being in your 50s means you can take a deep breath. Remove the tight belt. Stop caring about back fat.
That wonderful, set-yourself-free feeling isn’t only about women, though. Lots of balding guys toss their Chia Pet-looking toupees in the trash. They stop covering gray sideburns with shoe polish. They don’t have to pretend anymore, either.
We finally stop caring about other people’s control issues and expectations, too.
We can simply be who we are. Big deal if other people don’t like it.
This year with breast cancer has taught me so much about defining life and breathing every dream, every single hope, into it.
Being told you have any kind of cancer slices your heart right down the middle.
Being told that your body must now be forever maimed … well that’s a big deal, too.
But when I was whisked away for a CAT scan, due to continuous troubles with vertigo, I was first warned that the breast cancer might have traveled to my brain.
While my head was in that machine, I felt an entirely new level of fear, panic, helplessness. I thought about how often I allowed other people’s criticism to dictate my decisions. I thought about how badly I wanted to see my child’s face the first time he saw his child’s face. And I thought about how many times I have dreamed about rocking my grandbaby. I thought about leaving here before I ever got to do even half of the wishes that whispered in my chest.
That’s when I started to apologize to God. “You gave me this life, and I have not trusted myself to be and do all the things that make my heart beat. I am so sorry for that. If I could please stay here, I will make it right. I promise I will.”
Don’t wait until you are in a scary moment like I was before you make changes. Get a clue before I did. Get up every morning and smile at your life. Dance with it. Be in love with it.
When it’s your turn to leave here, you will peacefully let go, knowing that you gave it all you had. That you used every single part of your heart to laugh and love and enjoy the prettiest moments of what it truly means to wrap your spirit around your life and live it with every favorite color, every special song, every moment that makes you cry happy tears. That’s the way to live this life.
A former Southsider and an award-winning journalist and humor writer, Sherri Coner resides in southwest Florida. To learn about her books for women and to join her on Facebook, visit www.sherriconer.com. She also speaks to women’s groups.