You’ve sure been a tough one to get a hold of so I thought I would write you and maybe this letter will get through.
You and I haven’t always seen eye to eye, you see, you think that it is okay to use time to your advantage, to expedite the process, and I would much rather a slow down. I must admit, you seem to be in full control on this one despite my efforts to combat your expedient measures of “time.” Yet, I also must admit that there isn’t a moment that you have given me that I am not fully aware of its magnitude even if I didn’t know it at the time. You see, despite my eagerness to stop this fleeting 40 you’ve shared, I wouldn’t want to miss a thing. So, for that I must thank you I guess, I must or else this gift you’ve graciously offered would be a waste, and well, I am no waster. (just ask my bottle of wine)
I will start with the first decade wrapped up in a big pink bow with lots of strawberry shortcake. You gave me this incredible mother… I mean you let one of the most caring and empathetic women carry me in her womb, snuggled under her heart that she shares with the world that has often not been so kind to her, and you let me hear that beating from the inside. You let me be part of her and for that, I am eternally grateful. You gave me the gift of dancing and laughter from my dad. You gave me the gift of purest love and spoiled me rotten with the two best grandmas and grandpa the world had to offer. I must tell you that I was not a rag doll to play with or dress up and parade around, but my four aunts wouldn’t agree. Nor was I a punch line in a joke or a girl to be teased, but my uncles would tell you otherwise. That is okay though because they all let me be the coolest kid on the block and they are my fiercest protectors. Sadly, you also taught me about divorce and what it means to live in a “broken” home, however, my home was never broken I tell you, it simply could never be. Ultimately divorce led to re-marriage, my siblings, and a bonus mom that could never be if it weren’t for the detoured path my parents took. So really, I must thank you for putting me in front of the audience mentioned along with my most adoring fans like my incredible brothers and beautiful sister, my godmother, bonus mom, stepdad, awesome cousins, and childhood friends. You gave me the gift of curiosity, exploration, discovery, and granted me innocence for a long as I could have imagined.
The second decade, well that one was a bit awkward, so no, I am sorry but I am not sure I can thank you for that one. Well, except that there was this gift that etched my soul and trained me with grace and fluid beauty. Oh the stage, the lights, the fields, the courts, the aisles at the grocery stores, any where, the music was flowing, I was dancing. Oh god, I love dancing. The wins, the losses, the best years of my young life… they were spent dancing and performing. I guess I can thank you for that. I spent most of the second decade wandering, seeking out for the little girl I was and the woman that I wanted to be. Sometimes, I got lost and was left heartbroken. I had my first love, my high school sweetheart. I went to my first dance, became the captain of the drill team. I had the most fun friends and memories to give you one of those laughs that make your belly hurt. I was inspired by some of the best mentors, coaches, and teachers. I made the dance team at the University of Utah, I drank my first icky drink and swore I would never do it again. (I’ve never been good at keeping promises.) There were times during this decade that I thought I knew it all. I mean, even for a moment I thought myself a vegetarian to save the animals of the planet, my sweet dad would even grill me veggie burgers at our family gatherings, only to tease me about them years later. I made my first best friends. My baby brother was born this decade so that was pretty awesome, my little sidekick and buddy. Oh my vw rabbit… that was incredible, driving with the top down with the cool breeze, starry skies, and Madonna playing on the radio. Being seventeen, who can ever forget being seventeen? I mean really, even Tim McGraw wrote a song about it. So as awkward and silly as this time may have been, they are the most memorable.
The third decade gets a little more interesting. You gave me the courage to move to San Diego with two of my very dearest friends. What a year and a half that was. The sand under our feet, the sky as the limit, and the fun south of the border. I am always grateful for that. You gave me the joy of being in the mountains, on the lake, and in the ocean. You gave me the strength to stand tall when the world around me felt like it was crumbling. You gave me my first born son, through him, I found what it actually meant to do this thing called “living.” Those 40 weeks and 2 days we spent as “womb-mates” were the most magical and transforming. You gave me the courage to be his mom and didn’t leave me on my own, you brought me a village. You brought me love, loss, and heartache this go round. That is okay, it all made me stronger and fonder of life. You gave me a taste of travel, a love for coffee, too many drinks to remember and nights that I will never forget. You gave me this desire to be better and to finish some things that I started, but you weren’t quite ready for me yet (that’ll have to wait until the next one). You knew my love for dancing and put me into this unbelievable decade plus two years coaching. How did you know that I needed that and that I would actually be somewhat good at it too? I will always wonder. I cannot explain to you how much I loved coaching and how much I loved the young women that danced their way across my heart and into the brightest moments of that decade. Drill team was one of the best gifts you gave me for sure. I coached some of the best and alongside some of the greatest. In fact, you gave me one of my absolute favorite humans ever. This was the decade that the belief in myself was forming, that “She Believed She Could. So She Did.” was really created. Yeah, I was saying that since receiving it as a gift from one of my dancers on a hallmark bookmark, long before it was this decade’s latest trend. It spoke to me, just as you did during my 20’s. I may not have always listened, but I heard you.
Then there is the next decade, the one where I was terrified to turn thirty! You remember that mid-life crisis, sadly, me too. This is where I really understood that although you were giving me moments that seemed to last forever, they didn’t, they were gone in sixty seconds too. This is the decade that I will most remember you see, it’s the one that has grounded me, the one that has become, well, “me.” How do I sum up a lifetime within this decade? You have made this decade the most eventful and the most profound no doubt. This is the one I met my soulmate, the guy that has loved me most, even on the worst days. You gave me the gift of love, friendship, and companionship with “my guy,” … for that I am most grateful. You gave me my fairytale wedding on the grounds of heaven amongst the most meaningful people in our lives. You gave me one last walk with my dad, hand in hand with my son, to the hand of my husband. You gave me our best friends at our sides (in a hot and sweaty line, I am always so sorry to them for that, why didn’t we give them shade?) Anyway, you gave me my husband’s grandfather blessing our marriage, and the most love that I have ever felt. You definitely helped play a hand in luck with my in-laws, so I speak for my most grateful heart, thank you. You gave me this new found zest for living and this insatiable love of travel. You have shown me so many hidden treasures this world offers. You have given me a much larger family and so many adventures. You made me an aunt with the coolest nieces and nephews. You took this decade to complete me… this is when I finally made it back to college and earned my English Teaching BA from the University of Utah. You put me across the table from one of the most transformative mentors of my lifetime, you “metcalfed” me. You let me walk so proudly in front of my son to show him that anything is possible and that giving up on yourself is not an option. You gave me the gift of the classroom and the pain of saying goodbye to coaching when my family called me home. You gave me the gift of motherhood two times more this decade too. How did I get so lucky? The birth of my son and daughter this decade and the whirlwind of time they’ve ensued has been far too fleeting. I am often in awe of these tiny humans that they are the best parts of me. My son is vibrant and has a way of delivering these one liners, he emulates his big brother, and wants to be larger than life most days. My daughter, oh the sweetest icing on the cake, the book end that has turned my husband into the most remarkable man. Her smile and her eyes light up the room, there isn’t a dark cloud around her. Don’t you think this next decade you can meet me in the middle and slow down a bit? You’ve placed me on the sidelines learning this whole new role of being a goalie mom, I mean did you think I could really stomach watching 50, 60, 70, now sometimes 90 mph shots of a hard rubber ball from a launching device thrown at my son? You heard me, I didn’t mis-speak, “AT” my son!! But like always, he hasn’t let me down and he’s made the job a little easier. You placed me next to some pretty awesome people on those sidelines and have given “family” a much wider scope and meaning. So now I have a village and a tribe and my heart is left reeling. You led me to my mat and that single act has repeatedly saved me. I can’t give you too much credit though, it’s beginning to sound a little too flattering. You also gave me grief, I mean, this is also the decade that you took my only grandfather from me… don’t you think that was a little insensitive? I know we can’t all live forever, but maybe just a little bit longer would do. Then you taught me about cancer… F!! that shit! This is the decade that I think I am struggling to finish the chapter to most because as much as its given me, what it has taken from me is even harder. This is the decade you took my Craigers and there isn’t a moment, even fleeting, that I haven’t ached for just one more second. I do appreciate the thirty seven years you gifted me with them and the eight years with my husbands Mor Mor; how lucky am I to have made saying goodbye impossible. You have given me the most challenging times this decade and the most self-reflection.
I am not sure that I agree with ol’ Tim McGraw on this one, I don’t feel thirty is when we can sing, “in my next — years,” rather forty. Forty is when the surest footing, strongest calling, and most important years flourish. At least, that is what I believe and find most hopeful. As painful as saying goodbye to the last 39 years may be, I embrace this time full heartedly. I may even come around to embracing the fine lines, age spots, grey hairs, and wrinkles… after all, I have smiled a lot, laughed often, and have cried too… therefor, I have earned them! I have felt love, heartbreak, happiness, joy, and sadness. I have felt peace, I have found myself and try hard not to lose sight of that little girl I once was and in my heart will always be.
As we move forward together, it is my wish for us both to slow down a bit, to fully live in each moment, to not take this life we share for granted. We have a lot of work to do you and I… there are dreams I must make happen, there are goals, I need to achieve… I can’t do them without you. Despite our “moments” we are in this together, for the long haul. You are the greatest gift I have ever been given… you come offering more than I ever could have imagined. Packed up inside you is this complexity that is beautiful, it’s a raw beauty and it is as real as it gets. You are as real as it gets. Let’s write this next decade together, without regret, closing the chapters of our failures and stay grounded in our successes.
So, 40, thank you. Like I said before, you and I may not always agree and I don’t doubt that there will be moments of struggle ahead, but for what it is worth, I love you.