|My parents, circa May, 1955|
Last week, my husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. A few days ago, I lit a candle and chanted yiskor on the 1st anniversary of my mother's death. Tomorrow I turn 50. In a few weeks, it would have been my mother's 90th birthday. It will be my son's 20th on the same day.
The fall has always been a time packed with events. Aside from the myriad of birthdays and annual celebrations, it brings the Jewish Holidays, the start of the school year, and the turn of seasons with its march toward winter.
This year feels more significant, somehow, even though I know just how arbitrary those numbers are. Why should being 49 feel any different than 50? 24 years of marriage versus 25? It's not like there's any special prize or privilege associated with those particular milestones. At least when you turn 18, you get to vote. 21 and you are legal to drink. 50 is just a day with what feels like weight attached. My husband's mother died when she was 50. At the time, while I knew 50 was too young to die, it also felt old. At least it was from my vantage point of 18.
I've never made a big deal about my age. Honestly, I'm not sure what 50 is supposed to mean. If this is a mid-life crisis, it feels more like confusion than angst. Even if I had the power to change my life, I'm not sure if I would change anything. (Other than I'd like my husband to not have to work as many hours as he does.)
My sons are racing toward adulthood. The eldest is in college; the youngest starting his college applications. My writing life is rich and full (though a birthday gift of a book contract would not go amiss). I have no regrets and I continue to look forward to each day with anticipation.
And yet, there is a melancholy that colors this happiness, like the brown edges creeping across my basil crop and withering the tomato leaves. Perhaps that is what 50 signifies for me--accepting that a hard frost is coming, yet raising my face to the September sunshine anyway.