This Halloween marks a mere 40 days until my next milestone birthday. Moses fasted during his 40 days, but not I, no matter how fit I hope to look in my birthday party dress. I will, however, have a deluxe facial (an early birthday gift from a bosom pal) from the esthetician who enthusiastically declared she could remove my many forehead lines which for years have rested without complaint beneath my bangs.
In my 20s I fell in love and married. In my 30s I got divorced. In my 40s I fell in love and married. In my 50s I was widowed. Falling in love and getting married inspire a sense of joyful youthfulness. Divorce and widowhood, not so much. But most all milestones invite reflection.
I continue to hold fast to the possibility that I will live beyond a hundred, though recently saddened to learn I lack the combination of genes to make it to 120. By any math, this places the majority of my life behind me.
As I look back, I can taste moments like those Halloweens nights with our preschoolers—they’re still as sweet as my favorite peanut butter cup candy. Other memories haunt me with regret. I still remember my foolish words spoken impulsively and my words that I swallowed in fear. I still wish I could have “do overs” for those times when my children deserved more of me as I struggled to get myself out of marriage messes of my own making. I still wish my children were able to have parents who lived happily ever after.
As the end of this decade of my rich life approaches, I find myself less spooked by the specter of my past than I was in my younger years of great change and loss. Indeed, having survived so many scary scenes and seasons, I am less fearful of those which lie ahead. I am better able to see the countless blessings in disguise, observing a lifetime of my heart being broken, of my heart healing, and of my loving once again.
When I reflect on how I showed up in marriage, in divorce, and in my post-marriage life, I won’t be frightened by the ghosts gone by–my lessons not yet learned, my goals not yet met, my many mistakes made. Instead, I will recall my childhood Halloweens, when I could be anyone I wanted to be. Angel, warrior, cat, and belly dancer are all under consideration.
I hope you’ll give yourself this same treat this Halloween.