Veteran’s Day 2019 I was feeling pleased, maybe even proud that my day was planned well, during my usual 15-20-minute yoga routine. The tree pose is held for 60 seconds as I gaze out my apartment’s large window onto a field, a pond, and a backdrop of forest. I relish my daily view.
Soon, my hot coffee made at home is sitting in my Jeep Liberty cup holder.
As usual, I park in Wegman’s lot, ready to buy a hot or warmed freshly made bagel, when I see I have forgotten my purse. Stupid! I say out loud, (I just typed ‘stuoid wrong), yet within 5 seconds, I’ve thought of the possibility of laundry-quarters being in the glove compartment. I smile, knowing now I don’t have to waste time to retrieve my purse, as it’s not needed for my next planned task.
Yes, there are several quarters loosely lying in my glove compartment! Then, I remember how smart I was, sitting in my jeep, about to leave home, and thought to retrieve my gardening gloves from the garage. Does that mean my fear of aging is lessened?
Just yesterday, I’d visited my best friend’s gravestone, held her ashes in my hand, while I tell her how much I miss her, just 70, when cancer grounded her. Today, I am one of the lucky golden girls driving to another friend’s garage to retrieve 8 boxes of my books that she has stored. They are heavy. And hard to hold onto as I step down a flight of stairs. I feel greatfull. (misspell intended)
My next task is to gather 2 large bags of mulch from a village highway departments pile, which is on my way home, sorta. A short backtrack needed. As I drive, I am thinking I’d like to try a new road to see if it connects, as it feels to be in the right direction. Sorta. Boiceville Road is unfamiliar to me, smiling as I pass a development which might pass as doll houses, each a different color, you could call ‘apartment-houses?’ At the next stop sign, I turn right and within a ¼ mile, 2 mulch piles appear along with another smile on my face. SMART girl, I think. No backtracking necessary; only aging allowed.
The first day of spring 2018, I met a 25-year-old Cornell grad student at The Range, a local bar in Ithaca, NY, where I love to dance. We became an odd pairing, – like in the Harold and Maude movie – except Antoine gleefully lost his virginity with me (and 19 -year-old Harold didn’t with 80-year-old Maude). I am 72. Although he was struggling with despair, no longer wanting to finish his PhD in physics, he was loving, fun to be with, and intensely questioning the meaning of his life. He was already seeing a school psychologist but being in love was the medicine that helped him finish his Masters: “I couldn’t have finished without you.”
Being with a Marriage and Family Therapist, utilizing a primal feeling process as a foundation, Antoine learned to be in touch with feelings of anger he had buried by being the good boy – the “pleaser.” Being from France, he returned to his homeland in July and we continued an intercontinental love, flying back and forth over the Atlantic. By December, Antoine’s anger became rage and I almost didn’t fly to Guadeloupe as he had planned for our New Years. I was afraid. He was working with a Primal Therapist and I was assured he’d be okay; a prescription of Xanax in hand if needed. We had a glorious week, processing food and feelings while experiencing hiking to waterfalls, strolling through botanical gardens, swimming, making love, kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving. He experienced two evening dips into fear, which Xanax and sleep redeemed. Just after Valentine’s Day 2019, he had a breakdown that necessitated a psychiatric hospitalization. With WhatsAp, we communicated daily until July 13th, when he showed up in Ithaca unannounced except by texts saying he’d been to Texas, bought a gun, and was threatening his own life as well as mine.
My fear upped the ante, so I had to call the police, and his parents in France. I never thought I’d have to obtain an order of protection from a man who was faithfully trying to heal his pain. He was escorted out of Ithaca by bus, flew to France and remains in a mental hospital at this time. How did this loving man turn into someone I feared?
One morning in 1976, my 2-year-old daughter Megan went missing. What else can you feel but panic. I called the police and searched our college town neighborhood. Within 20 minutes, the police called back to say she was found in a bar about one block away. Some kind man had called the police too. The rush of love, when she was returned to my arms evicts tears now.
And, when Megan found herself running in the dark at age 14. We were visiting cousins of my then husband, in Florida, an unknown neighborhood to us. Megan and I had started on a run as dark was approaching. She didn’t want to go as far as me, so she turned back, assuring me she could find her way, despite the looming darkness. When I returned, she hadn’t. My heart kept pounding, ‘I must find her!’ It’s the most monumental fear of all time, to lose one’s child. I got lucky.