I turned 50 in 2017, so it seems fitting to reflect on existing for a half-century on this tiny planet in our vast universe.
I’ve always felt very fortunate and grateful to be alive, because at the age of seven, no one thought I was going to make it to eight. One day I was playing on the playground at school, and a week later I lay fevered and delirious in a hospital room, and everything that was wrong with me had the potential to kill me: I had meningitis, osteomyelitis, sepsis and soon after a deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. In 1974, the odds were heavily stacked against my survival in a small-town hospital in rural America. The doctor who saved my life, Dr. Duffy, always refused to take credit, citing a miracle instead.
My near-lethal illness came on swiftly and suddenly, out of nowhere. At age seven I couldn’t comprehend what had happened, and was terrified it would happen again. I didn’t dare to imagine what I wanted to be when I grew up, because I wasn’t sure I was going to grow up.
I took it one day at a time, recovering bit by bit, my determination carrying me along the way. Because I knew that life could be yanked away at any time, I resolved to live every moment as if it could be my last.
The half century hits home for me in another way as well. At 50, I am the same age that my mother was when my father died at age 54. I feel the loss almost as keenly as I did 23 years ago, because now that I’m that age, I understand exactly how young he really was when we lost him.
So for many reasons, making it to 50 felt like a personal triumph, and wanted to make the year a remarkable one, a gift to my 7-year-old self and a tribute to my parents.
So I traveled to Europe, twice. My husband and I visited Paris and Normandy. Then my son and I took an epic hiking trip around Mont Blanc, putting my physical limits to the test. I learned a completely new style of dance, flamenco, and got to perform with an amazing group of women. I deepened several important friendships. I spent some wonderful time with my family and friends in Seattle and North Carolina. My husband and I adopted a beautiful rescue dog.
And I started a blog.
The year has been challenging in several ways, with unexpected losses. These valleys form part of life’s landscape, and while I acknowledge the challenges they bring, I will not reside forever there, choosing instead to do the hard work of climbing up from the valleys to seek out the peaks. The view is amazing from up there, and yet you can see the beauty and utility of the valleys. I understand that without the valleys, the peaks have less meaning.
I look forward to seeing what this decade brings.