Wednesday, October 13, 2004

On turning 25

My birthday sort of creaped up on me. I'm about a month out from my 25th birthday, and it just hit me today when James started talking about having a "birthday bash." I can't remember the last time I actually celebrated a birthday. I've observed them, sometimes with a special dinner and what have you. But celebration? Probably 8th grade, when I turned thirteen and became a real teenager.

I had actual friends the year before when I went to Shaler Middle School and the three of them actually came to my party. We rented Batman Returns, which I was positively psyched about, but didn't really get to watch because they wern't interested, and we ended up doing something else. I didn't get to see it all the way through until after college (end sidenote).

I think a real party could be kind of cool. Not because it'd be nifty to get gifts or anything, becuase I don't like getting gifts for some reason. I can never think of anything that I want, and I end up just driving everyone nuts (hence that blog entry about a month ago when I could actually think of some stuff it'd be cool to have). Naw, I think it would be cool just to have all my friends around and spend time with them and just BE with them (emphasys on being and existing).

It's been a wierd few weeks that has made me think about life. Rodney Dangerfield died. And I was disappointed and bummed about that. He seamed really hopeful going into his heart surgery. He seemed healthy and he sounded like he felt like it was routine maintinance, like getting your breaks and roters replaced (ok, a little more than routine, but hardly the end of the world), and then he was gone. And the world lost a funney guy. He was in his 80's, but it seemed like he wasn't done. When my grandpa died, he was done. Alzheimers had taken a lot out of him, and we were all ready to say goodbye so he could have some peace, but it didn't seem that way with Rodney. It seemed like 80 years wasn't enough.

Then Janet Leigh died (or maybe she died first, I don't remember), And I'll always remember her pretty and blonde, with bright eyes and thick eyelashes, so it was a little weird to me to find out she was in her 70's. Yes, Psycho was made in the 70's (or 60's, I dunno, it's very late). I mean, it's been like 35, 40 years. She's entitled to get old, I suppose. And she's entitled to die. Even though Psycho doesn't seam so long ago (even though it was before I was born).

I don't know--the passage of time seams a little fuzzy to me lately. It's very late, I'm making little sense, but sometimes, time seams like the little clear plastic cubes my granddad has that have coins suspended in them. It looks like the coins were falling, and they somehow were frozen. And I can see them from every angle, and they're going nowhere. I can see all of it, backwards and forwards and know how the story's going to end because I've read it before, even though, maybe I haven't.

Like I found my grandfather's medals in my parents' attic a few weeks ago. And I read all the letters and telegrams and newspaper clippings. It was so odd... obituaries for family members who were old when he was a kid. People I know nothing about, but're twice removed from. I feel connected to them, and I can see that one piece of their lives, suspended there like those bright, frosty-new pennies. I can't see what came before, I can't see whether they were thrown upwards, or dropped, but I feel like I should, and I feel jipped for all the stories I won't know. I suppose that comes at the end of time, or maybe just the end of my own time, when God will let me read the chapters from the book that I am missing.

I miss my grandfather a lot. It's taken me a few years to work out of my mind the way he died, so completely finished with life. I can remember him the way he was when I was a kid, so warm and loving all of us so much. He was always so giving. He couldn't ever give enough of himself. His time and his presence is what I'm most grateful for. And for all of the little pieces of him that I've gotten to carry with me. Just knowing some of the stuff he liked--iced coffee, his big yard, flowers, crystal lite, bran muffins--all of that stuff somehow just sits inside me and lives there, and it's a piece of him I can take away. I have some of his stuff, the little deer that used to live on the shelf in his living room, the orange pancake turner he used to flip the greasy microwaved hamburgers he made with, the picture of Jesus that lived on his sun porch. I don't know what I'd ever do if those ceramic deer broke. I know he liked them.

I remember walking around my grandparents' house in Gibsonia after he was gone and my grandmother was living with my parents. It was so empty, and yet there was so much of him there. He lived so much of his life there.

I saw pictures of him at the reunion this summer. One was from I guess the 70's. He was thinner then. He looked so active, so alive. Probably more than I ever remembered. It was in such contrast to the pictures of him at the reunion the year before he died; he was so sad looking. Old and fragile, and even though he was heavy, the flesh was still hanging from his bones. It looked like he melting, falling apart and coming undone. It was so stark, I still can't wrap my mind around it. It still hurts to think about it.

I have trouble wrapping my head around all those images of him--being my brother's age and writing to his mom that he had arrived at his next post safely, or his mother's day letter saying that she was the best mom in the world, the pictures of him my dad's age, and so much more fit and alive than my parents are today, and then that last one.

I still feel like he's very close to me. I guess that's one thing that has made his death never really seam real to me--I still feel close to him, and there's that huge difference in all the ways I remember him.

It was a little weird to me when James told me that Christopher Reeve was dead. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it, and I still can't. He was a guy who seemed to really be planning for the long term. I really couldn't believe when that one doctor said that he knew that his time was short. He made me believe that we'd all see him walk again. Especially since he'd already worked so hard and made so much progress, breathing on his own, regaining some feeling... I really really believed. "Suspension of disbelief?" maybe. I don't know. I still feel like I'm living two weeks ago when I was contemplating how cool it'd be to have Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeves in the same episode of smallville.

I guess just to take this back to my original point--no amount of time seams like enough, and I'm suddenly so very aware of how short life is, and I feel my end, even if it's seventy years from now approaching so fast, and it's disturbing and a little scarry. I know I should welcome it, but it's like the first time I've contemplated, or even really realized in all my 25 years that I'm not immortal. My head knows, I'd be stupid not to know it. But I think my heart just figured it out.

Where do I go from here?


Blogger Abby said...

Becoming 25 was certainly a turning point for me as well. I, too, realized that life wasn't forever and that it was only as good as I made it. Your head seems like it's wrapped around things pretty well...It's those 25 year olds who don't realize their heads *need* wrapping who worry me.

7:54 PM  

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