Lately, I’ve been missing things. I miss seeing my kids everyday and I miss my youth. I miss the bar that my husband and I went to every Friday night in our 20s, to eat thick burgers and drink cold beer. I miss being a teenager and listening to the Rolling Stones when Mick Jagger was 30-something. I miss being a driven graduate student. I miss being a young mother.
I looked up the word miss in the dictionary. I know it’s a simple word. I know what it means. But I needed to see it in writing: miss; to feel regret or sadness at no longer being able to enjoy the presence of or at no longer being able to go to, do, or have.
That’s how I’ve been feeling. And I’ve been wondering if that’s okay. After all, I have no deceased loved ones to miss. I still have all of my body parts. My husband and I still love each other, most of the time, after 30 years. My kids are doing well, and I see them frequently. Plus, I’m a happy empty nester. I love my newfound freedom and I’m having a great time. I’ve embraced midlife. I’ve worked hard to let go, move on, reinvent, and joined the chorus of voices proclaiming, “thank god we are not clueless 20-somethings anymore.”
I’ve been a good little midlifer. I’ve taken note of all the slogans: Don’t look back. Don’t live in the past. Move Forward. Appreciate what you have now. There’s so much more to come. Aging is a privilege. But still.
I miss places where I’ve lived. I miss the small, friendly town that I grew up in. I miss steamy nights in New Orleans when I was a college student. I miss the first house that my husband and I bought, with the solid oak doors that he painstakingly stained and installed in each bedroom.
I miss my daughter’s crib and my son’s tricycle. I miss watching my little girl’s eyelids flutter, angel wings, as she slept through the night. I miss seeing my son running towards me, anticipation and joy on display just for me, as he got off of the yellow school bus each day.
I thought I had this midlife gig figured out.
But all of this missing. It has taken me by surprise.
But I’ve decided that it’s part of the deal.
I’ve decided that missing is appreciation. And gratitude. Even a prayer: thank you, thank you, thank you for all of that. I’ve decided that in the midst of all of this busyness to embrace, reinvent and move on, I will also allow myself a simple, human experience. I’ll give myself the space and time and quiet to miss things. Even though it makes my heart hurt. Even though I really just want to ignore it, pretend it’s not there, and just get on with being 50 and fabulous.
I’ve decided that missing is important. It is the recognition of a life fully lived and a reminder to keep paying attention, to keep on keeping on, and to make these years count. Because one day, when I am in the midst of the busyness of being a kick-ass 94-year-old, it is these days, these wonderful, rich, creative midlife days, that I will be missing.
Copyright: Amy Ruhlin
Reprinted with permission