Having been first born in my family and first among my friends to have children, be married, get divorced, the middle position isn’t a familiar place to me. Yet, it seems that’s exactly where I am. The middle of my life. Mid-life.
I’ve spent much of the past couple years looking behind and evaluating. The current year has been a period of looking forward to make future plans. Helen’s death stopped me in my tracks and I began to evaluate this moment of time in my life.
When I met her I was a young teenager, she seemed so much older and mature. She was a single mom, working hard to take care of her children. At her visitation, I was surrounded by people I’ve loved for the past 30 years and came to the stunning realization that Helen was approximately my age when I met her. The prospect of my long life shortened because it could now be measured by her life.
I began to look around at all my long-time friends and wondered, “Is this the beginning of the middle?” The stage in life where best friends, who have gone in different directions, begin to gather for the funerals that inevitably appear in our lives as we reach mid-life.
I also found myself stuck in the middle emotionally. I loved Helen like family and yet I wasn’t.
The most intense times for me tend to create an awareness that I need to “get through.” I allow the emotion to percolate slowly by keeping too busy to think and then in a quiet moment I let some of the feeling surface. I repeat this until I can handle the pain in it’s entirety. It’s how I’ve learned to cope.
I haven’t had much contact with Helen recently. She was dealing with a lot of physical pain and was surrounded by her family. The day I was told she was passing, I was unable to talk to her, a throat infection had stolen my voice. Truth be told, it was recompense for my phone aversion. I had difficulty calling her because I knew I couldn’t talk without crying. Insufficient strength is distressing for me, so I avoided it. I was assauged in the knowledge she had the best care possible. Instead I cherish the short time I spent with her on a visit last May.
I wasn’t born into her family but I was welcomed like a foster child. Her children are very much my brother and sisters in the way I love them. So there I sat at the funeral, feeling like I had lost a family member but unable to verbalize the emotion of having one foot in the family and one foot outside of it.
Stuck in the middle but surrounded & blessed by the people in my life. I love you Helen.