I just returned from five wonderful days with my dear, dear college friends of fifty years now. We’ve stayed in touch over all these years; initially through a chain letter, then email, and now we see and talk to each other through messenger. However, our most important communication is when we meet in person. At least once a year we plan a four- or five-day get-together of sightseeing, playing cards, doing a jigsaw puzzle, and shopping. But most importantly, we gather to be with each other; to hug and touch; and share our stories, intimate thoughts, joys and sorrows.
We love each other like sisters, and like sisters, we share openly, candidly, and with patience, understanding, and appreciation of our differences.
Naturally over all these years, there have been many challenges in each of our lives, including health issues. At present I am the only one dealing with diagnosed memory and cognitive decline. Not surprisingly, during our gatherings these women are incredibly patient with me regarding my memory. They answer my many and often repetitive questions with patience. When I say, “I know I’ve asked you this before,” they smile and say, “No problem.” In turn, they gently remind me, “Don’t forget to bring a sweater. Do you have your ticket?” And they stay near me in crowds because they understand I can get easily get turned around in unfamiliar locations.
During these five days much of the conversation included common and “normal” topics such as clothes shopping, planning and taking long trips, participation in book clubs, writing groups, card clubs and the joys of babysitting grandchildren so the parents can get away for a night or even a week or so. As I listened to their conversations, I realized how much my world has shrunk. I have no need or desire to purchase new clothes, as I don’t go out much anymore. I’ve given up group activities because I can’t keep up with the multiple conversations. And it wouldn’t be safe for me to care for young children on my own.
Since returning home, I’ve reflected on the conversational topics often, and on how little I can personally relate to the conversation. Surprisingly, I’m both mentally and emotionally okay with my exclusion. My world has contracted considerably, and I accept that reality. Equally, much of the resentment and self-pity I once held regarding what I was no longer capable or able to do has dissipated…or perhaps I’ve just become accustomed to my smaller, pared down world.
No matter! The fact is, I’m okay with my simple, quiet life. I like my serenity, my slow pace, the predictable routine of my days.
What a comfort it has been to experience my transition to acceptance. What a sense of relief, how freeing it is to let go of resentment, self-pity, and even fear. And how good it feels to experience joy for what I have and let go of what is past.
Now let me be clear. I do realize this is a temporary state of calm, which can turn on a dime. Nevertheless, I’m going to enjoy the joy and bliss I feel right now. I’m going to try to stay in the moment and when I stray, return to thoughts of past happy times and current contentment…and not fret about tomorrow.