When we met, Mike was 45 and I was 31. He died at 59, when I was 44. Now I am only a few days away from my own 47th birthday.
I think about this a lot these days. Getting older; being middle-aged. Being older now than Mike was when we met. And the fact that I will not share those same years with Mike that he did with me.
He was so excited about having this new chapter in his life - our marriage was #3 for him. I know he had been sad thinking he would be alone, after his second marriage failed. I think sometimes he could hardly believe it, that he had found love again. And I of course was often in disbelief that I had met such an amazing man. He was so adoring of me, as I was of him, and we were so thrilled we had found each other.
And it was a grand adventure, being married to Mike - it wasn’t always perfect of course, but it sure was an adventure. Of course we would have no idea our time together would be cut so short. I had realized that I would most likely outlive him - but I certainly didn’t imagine he would be gone when I was in my mid 40s.
Now I face the world, and my life, not only without my husband, but at an age when I am starting to see signs of aging in myself. It totally sucks. I never thought about getting old when Mike was alive…I was secure in my marriage, secure with my age, secure about my life…now, not so much. I’ve found myself working very hard to fight the process. I know a few other widows of my similar age who have told me they feel the same way.
I do remember him often lamenting his own aging, many times commenting that he recognized the face staring back at him in the mirror as his father rather than the young man of his mind’s eye. I didn’t really notice the process happening as it occurred slowly over time, but looking back at old pictures the difference is notable. I always thought he was handsome though, and I told him so often, to his last day. The pictures above are of Mike in 1999 at age 45 not long after met and married, and then in late 2011, at age 58, a little over a year before he died.
I wonder a lot how things will end up in my own life. How long do I have? Will I find grace with age? Will I be alone or with this new man or…? And if I’m with this new guy or someone else how will he age? What will happen to him? Would it be harder to be alone or harder to go through pain or disease with someone else? I feel scarred from seeing Mike get sick, from finding him there that morning…I feel gun shy about possibly doing it again.
I know at some point I will have to make peace with aging…and peace with the idea of others around me getting old too. But it feels very challenging.
Losing Mike in my own middle age has really shifted my perspective on life. I am trying to focus on each day, each moment, finding some good days, good people, things to look forward to…because I’m more aware than ever that my own time is limited. I want it to mean something; I want to look back on it all someday myself and feel I did the best I could to live this life I was given.
In the background I hear the ominous, never-ending sound of a giant clock ticking away the moments of what I hope will never be a dull life.
Mike never led a dull life - that is for sure. I think he heard that same clock ticking too.