And the worst of it all? I forgot to go. Seriously. I forgot. It was one of those parties that start at 11pm, as they do when you're that age, so I planned on going after attending a school concert. My husband had declined on health grounds, and I got the kids home and into bed, and then got into bed and went to sleep. Before the 11pm start. And kicked myself at 8am the next morning when I saw all the photos on Facebook. Talk about being red-faced.
And then our trip to South Africa. Before I'd meet up with friends from a 4 year sojourn and they'd be telling me they were getting married, or were pregnant, or were about to trek around the world on a unicycle. Now? As one of them put it, "it's the butterfly effect. You put one foot wrong stepping out of your car, and you find yourself on crutches for a year, and after 7 operations and 9 months later you're separating from a 20 year relationship."
It just happens. Another friend I didn't see is also getting divorced. I know she's going to have a hard time, but equally I know she's going to be a lot happier at the end of it all. I can only attribute it to that, oh, we're half way done, and there is still half to go, most of which we're going to be cogniscent and with enough money to actually enjoy it, so let's make the most of it. And they're right. In both cases there is a child involved. And I think that makes it even more right.
I visited a friend the other day who had just moved house and was showing us around. There were 3 rooms on the one floor of a 3 story house. Her room, his room and their daughter's room. "He snores" she explained, "and gets home late from business trips and leaves early". I didn't say anything.
The most painful movie I saw last year was "Hope Springs" and that's where my mind sprang when she said that. It was a movie that I saw shortly after another friend confessed that she and her husband had been sleeping apart for 10 years, and didn't even touch each other. Finally she'd fallen in love with another and decided to call it off. The thing she said that made most sense to me was that she didn't want her boys to think that what they had was a marriage.
There are other things. Like the evening that I received 3 death notices in a row. That's spooky. Yes they were all relatives or parents of people I knew well, and well into their 70's. But you are reminded.
I had a chat about fear with my daughter last night. Their unit of enquiry at the moment is "conflict" - with her over active imagination she's internalizing a lot. We were talking about how you know that your fear is irrational, but you still have it and it's still real. I said that it was a valid feeling you had to acknowledge, but you couldn't let it get in the way too much. And there was nothing wrong in admitting it, or asking for help or someone to reassure or comfort you. It's another certain age. Where what you can imagine and fantasy slowly get swallowed by reality which is far worse than the worst you can imagine. And you have to learn about it and read about it and dwell on it. Does coming from a sheltered and privileged background make this an easier process or more difficult? Does it matter, as long as the end result is compassion rather than fear?
I've become more fearful too. My husband's illness and long recovery has made me realise just how fragile it all is. How it can be taken from you in a moment. That it doesn't really exist, you have no control or grasp on it all. That the more you have, even if you're not speaking in a material / monetary sense (another, not so great movie seen on the plane springs to mind - I'm sure this was stolen from another movie I saw many years ago), the more you can lose.
That old sense of invincibility has slowly been worn off. There are painful and raw bits. If you poke it hurts. Yes, there is a bit (a little bit) more perspective and balance, but the thing of balance is that it's so easy to topple.