Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Feeling My Age

It has been a rough few weeks. February began with the infamous car theft and ended with the funeral of a friend from college. March finds me reflecting on my mortality because as I attended yet another funeral recently (my fourth this year), I realize this is what folks my age do.

We mourn the passing of life. Not just the physical transitions of friends and loved ones, but also of dreams and aspirations. We reflect on what could have been, what was, and what was not.

The first funeral of the year was my bff's mother, Mrs. J. I had known her half of my life, which is now a lifetime. I was and still am trying to reconcile my emotions to how that must feel--to lose one's mother, even as I come to terms with the realities of my own mother's decline. I am also mourning because Mrs. J was very much like a mother to me as well, celebrating my accomplishments and various milestones as she did for her own children.

The second funeral was for someone else's mother whom I did not know, but I attended the service anyway because it was held at my church and my father was one of the speakers. That is something I do quite often now--provide support to my family in place of my mother. Not that she would have taken off in the middle of the day to attend a funeral, but somehow it seems appropriate as one of my many duties as the unexpected matriarch.

The third funeral was for a friend from college whose death was unexpected and yet not entirely because he had been ill for some time. Roughly two-thirds of the people I know at this point in my life I met in high school, college or law school and I have been out of school for nearly 20 years. So it is unbelievable when I tally the years and reflect on the fact that my parents also began to lose friends when they were my age. It still feels surreal to say that.

This last funeral was for the child of a high school classmate. We had not really been in touch since high school although Facebook allowed me to catch up on how much had occurred in her life since then. I had never met her child, yet I was so moved by her loss that I went to the services. I never cried more for someone I had never known and now that I am a mother, her loss is unimaginable.

Just this morning my timeline filled with RIP notices for Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time. I am saddened not just because his life is over, but because of the era in my life that he represents. We were young and idealistic, cavalier about our health, unaware of how friendships could change, and living like tomorrow was so far in the distance. Back in the day was a phrase we got from ATCQ lyrics (look it up) and it referenced childhood we use it to access our young adult selves, or who we were before we got married, had children or began losing our parents, peers and musical contemporaries.

Of course none of these deaths are about me, but mortality is a scary thing. We are each allotted a very specific amount of time, a unique set of circumstances, and a select group of folks to journey with us at various points along the way. We get to make an impact. We get to celebrate, reminisce, reunite, travel, create, interact, participate, thrive, suffer, complain, change, grow, nourish and perhaps in all of that, leave some sliver of a legacy. All of that in a lifetime.

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