I’m wearing a maternity top. I didn’t know that it was a maternity top when I found it in the sale rack at Target, or when I tried it on and thought, “so cute, I’m definitely buying this”. I just thought “I’m buying a really cute top for 11 bucks! Schweet! ” It wasn’t until I was hanging it up in my closet that I saw the Liz Lange Maternity label. This was cause for pause. When I was rifling through the racks, I came upon another very cute shirt, but I saw the label and thought, “Maternity?! No f&@#^in’ way I am wearing a maternity shirt! Gotta draw the line somewhere!” But now I’m home in my pjs and I’m looking at this reaaallly cute top, and I have no desire to go back to Target in an irate snit because they are mixing maternity in with regular and it’s their f&@^%#*in’ fault I can’t tell the difference! So, I hang it up. And this morning I put it on. And it’s still cute, although I’m a little ticked off that it’s not particularly loose on me. Shouldn’t it be really loose around the middle since I’m not pregnant!!?? WTF?!?! Of course, after I’m done cussing and swearing, I realize that as I have gotten, vintage, (see what I did there?), I have developed quite the spare tire around my middle, and although I’m at a weight that I have been at before in my life, the body itself, this squat round, lumpy figure? Clearly belongs to someone else. Seriously. Come and get it. And if you will return the body I used to have, no questions asked, all will be forgiven. Things change. I mean, we all look at our elders and see the wrinkles, the walkers, the grey hair. We understand in an oblique way that things change. But no one really talks about the less obvious stuff. The skimpy eyelashes. The disappearing chin. The gas. The lack of sleep. The ridiculousness going on in our lady parts. People, it’s a war zone down there!! These are the things no one tells you about. I dare you to open a medicine cabinet of some one over 55 and NOT see a tube of Preparation H. Don’t let those proud, wise, elders fool you. Getting older is one humiliating indignity after another! I for one, am PISSED!
But. I don’t sleep alone on the subway. I don’t wake up every morning wishing I hadn’t. I don’t pray every night to get well, to spare my loved one, to give me a reason to go on. I am healthy, I am loved, I am safe. I laugh, I create, I belong. Life is a series of give and takes, and if a spare tire is the only thing I have to bitch about right now, I am blessed.
Since my dad died in 2013, I have been going to the memorial service on Yom Kippur. It seems every year it gets more crowded, parking gets more elusive, as more and more of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles leave us. It feels like an assembly line. We move along, freshly manufactured little ones joining the line as the elders fall off at the end, packaged, sealed and shipped off to whatever comes next. And sometimes, there is a hitch in the system, and we fall off long before our time. Alcoholism, cancer, suicide, heart disease. I have always been convinced that as the world will cease to exist after I am gone, I will never die. And if I do, I will be 120 and I’m taking you all with me. I admit that this is completely childish and self-absorbed. Don’t care. Neener neener. A very dear friend of the family lost her long fight with breast cancer recently. I was shocked at how heartbroken I was. More so than when I lost my dad. How could that be? I came to understand that my dad was 85, had rarely been sick a day in his life, and had a heart attack while reaching for a slice of pizza. Could there be a better way to go? A greater gift to his family? I miss him everyday, but it was his time. Those who leave us young, especially after fighting so hard to live, those are the endings that break our hearts. That crush our spirit. Make us question our faith and the rightness of the world. Interestingly enough, this friend of ours, at least outwardly, never lost faith, never let her spirit get trampled, never let the world hear her cursing G-d, never asked why me? Oh, I’m sure she did all of that and more in private, but through it all, she fought and kept smiling. She cherished the life she had, even when she was tired and in pain. Does it take a crisis to appreciate our lives? We bitch and moan and whine about our jobs, our money, our bad hair days. Long commutes, short weekends, numerous obligations. We’re too fat, too thin, hate our noses. In Mexico they celebrate Días de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. They set up shrines to loved ones with marigolds and sweets and their favorite food and drink. They take food and drink and music to the cemetery and spend whole days there, celebrating the lives of the departed. It’s beautiful and fun and colorful and spectacular. But wouldn’t it be nice if we celebrated our lives while we were still alive instead of waiting for someone else to do it when we aren’t. Every day the conveyor belt moves closer to whatever awaits us. Celebrate. Smile. Laugh. Eat the cake. Dance. Create. Work hard. Play hard. Love hard. Spend whole days with your loved ones, eating their favorite food and drink while they are still here. Because tomorrow? Who knows?Dia de Los Muertos