What I’m Learning, Loving, and Grieving

I’m 49, about 5 months away from 50. I want to record what I am learning, loving, and grieving.

What I am grieving. What pierces my heart wide open in this moment is the loss. The loss of my young body, its graceful curves and succulent truth. The loss of innocence about so many things. The dreams of the younger version of me that never came to fruition. When I think of younger me, I want to weep, because she never knew her beauty. She always looked for confirmation. For love, and her value, from someone else. And oh, her beauty. The pinkness of youth, firm skin, blushing radiance that transforms itself into something else later. How I wish I could have been present with life exactly as it was. Mostly, I waited for “something good to happen,” feeling empty, scared, and so unsure of myself. Mostly, I just wanted to belong. Now I know, I already did. I wonder, if I have the privilege to make it to 80, will I look back at the me of now and feel the same way? Is 49 going on 50, going to be a similar reflection? Will I think, “oh honey, look how lovely you were?”

What I am learning is that I have inherited a deeper sense of beauty from the accumulation of years. Maybe I’m not wrinkle-free or slim in all the “right” places that the dominant culture demands. No. I choose now. I choose what beauty is. I choose me just like this. Some days, I wish my neck were a little more sleek, my face more firm. And that’s just how it is. I want my wishing self, too. I make love to the life I live. Maybe not all the time, but often. I feel my strength, my softness, my vulnerability, my longing, and all the delicious belonging I get to savor. Those “little” moments, they are magic. Looking out the window and merging with the light on the adobe wall while I wash the dishes. Sitting in silence with my husband as we take in the sunset together. Laughing with a close friend, so hard that all the grit and dirt from the day, the week, the year, gets liberated. Delighting in the life of a single flower that has just gifted me with its petals when it was time to go. These things are doorways to soul and this is intoxicating to me.

What I am loving is moving through the thresholds. With presence and intention. Taking up space as a guardian of the sacred. Marking the transitions of life as ceremony. Lifting the veils. Moving deeper into soulful communion. Letting life be poetry. Feeling brave even when I feel scared. Honoring all of it.

I hope to be in Italy or Bali for my 50th birthday. I imagine in some way, I will feel the same. But I don’t think I will BE the same. I hope I will delight in the miracle of still being here. Of staying with all the parts of me that I wanted to run away from when I was younger. The more I choose me, exactly as I am, a little rounder, rocking some laugh lines, and a whole lot wiser, the more I can choose all of you and your parts, too. That’s pretty damn beautiful, if you ask me.


Grace MangerComment