43

I turned 43 a week ago today.

It was a quiet day.  Birthdays at this age aren’t the source of fanfare they used to be.  Still, it was nice day filled with good wishes and friendly camaraderie.   My girlfriends had taken me out a few days before, my family took me out the day after, and all manner of far flung people filled my cell phone and Facebook page with their thoughts.

I’ve always said that getting older doesn’t really bother me.  In fact, I try to revel in the fact that I am extremely healthy and look young for my age, despite having a child in his twenties.  Certainly I’ve never even thought about lying about my age; as it is, people still greet my eldest’s age and station in life with shock.  I see them do the math in their heads when I tell them how old he is, how old I am.  Still, all told, 43 isn’t a problem for me.

I’ll be 43 this year, the year I become a grandmother.

My son and his wife shared their news with us this weekend, four days after my birthday.  They are expecting their first child, in March.

So many thoughts have occurred to me since the moment they told us.  They seem so, so young.  Except they’re five years older than I was when I had him.  They seem so unprepared, but yet they both still have good jobs.  I was still in college when I had my son.  They’ll need to move, to find a bigger place, but they’re still out on their own.  I was living at home, with my mom, when my son was born.

Everything I hear myself saying about how they’re not ready yet to be parents flies in the face of my own experiences.  And I worked it out, made a good life for my child, my children.  Right?

I want to happy for them, but I am so worried for them.  I wanted my son to not make any of the same mistakes that I did, and to have a much different experience than I had as a young adult.  I wanted him to revel in his twenties, have that time to enjoy life and travel and not worry about every penny, not worry about tomorrow and just have fun.

But I raised this boy to be responsible, thoughtful, and goal oriented.  So he’s done it all right:  gone to college, gotten his degree, gotten married, lived on his own, saved his money.   He didn’t waste his time partying because it simply isn’t in him.  I hope he feels that he’s had a lot of wonderful experiences, that he’s enjoyed his life as a young man.  Because his life is about to change dramatically.  It won’t ever be the same.  And most of the time, that will be wonderful, amazing, a gift that he will always cherish.

I hope they’re ready.  I pray they are ready.  And I wish, against all hope, that somehow the universe will hear me.

The Thousandth Mile

I’ve mentioned before that I live in Monroe, CT.  We here have been deeply affected by the events that took place on 12/14.  I wrote extensively about the charity 5K I put together (with a lot of help!).  One of the groups that benefitted from that race was the Race4Chase organization.  They get involved with various athletic events and encourage runners especially to run to raise money for their foundation, the Chase Kowalski Foundation.  Chase was an avid runner, even at 7.  He had competed in races and triathalons.  His energy and spirit are the rationale behind the cause.

Monroe is one of those places that people don’t leave.  It’s a small town in close enough proximity to NYC that there are plenty of reasons to stay.  Not only is it beautiful here, but there is a true sense of community here.  The people here are so nice; nicer than pretty much anywhere I’ve lived, and that includes my own hometown in Michigan.  Chase’s parents grew up here in Monroe, and didn’t go far.  They live next door in the Sandy Hook area of Newtown.  A lot of their friends from high school also live nearby, including one named Kevin Bresnahan.

Kevin is a runner, and not long after last December’s tragedy, he had the brainstorm to run a 1,000 miles this year in honor of Chase.  He’d heard that Chase had loved running and races, so he thought it was the one thing he could do to help.  He asked people to sponsor his miles, at $10 per mile.  His efforts actually helped give focus to the idea that eventually became Race4Chase, running to raise money for the foundation.  He started a blog to journal about each and every mile, and it can be read here:  1000 Miles 4 Chase.

He started last January.  I started reading it back then, and it was amazing to watch the miles, and the money, add up.  Kevin ran our local 5K as part of those miles, and I joined him for another 5K later that month.  He ran, and ran, and ran.  And lo and behold, the miles have added up.  This weekend, he finished.

As he neared the end, Kevin and some of the friends of the Kowalski family hatched an idea to share that last mile of his journey.  He worked with them to plan a route, a meeting place, get a police escort, and a big party for afterwards.  The last mile started at Chalk Hill School, where the Sandy Hook students now go.  It ended at their good friend’s house, just a mile away.  So meaningful.

This weekend was that last mile, and I was one of nearly 100 people who came out to complete that last mile with Kevin.  It was an awe inspiring, amazing time.   It was hot, so much of the route was walked by most of us, and I walked up part of the route with Becky Kowalski.  What an amazing energy and spirit she has.  She was upbeat, and positive, and even joked about how much she hated running, and why couldn’t Chase had loved a different sport that was less taxing?   She was incredible.

At the end, Kevin held Becky’s hand and ran through a finish line in their friend’s yard.  Then they both jumped in the pool to cool off.  And stayed to party with everyone who had come out in support of them.  It was friendship and love and support and faith and strength all together in one thirty minute span of time.

They inspire me.

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