I think the hardest part of aging as a healthy person firmly in your "middle age" is when you realize that even if you are blessed with currently good health, time *is* *still* actually passing you by.
This Holiday season, we've attended several parties where it seems like it's only been a few months or possibly even weeks since we've interacted in person with the attendees... but no. When we discuss it, it turns out, we actually haven't seen each other in at least 12 months. In other words, Time Is Flying!
And, those of us who actually experience this shock? We're the lucky ones. We are still here. The last few years, I've personally known a few people my own age who have died of natural causes. Like all losses, the pain will never completely fade -- it will mellow, but won't completely go away. But, the reality that I am old enough that a non-trivial percentage of my cohort is starting to die of natural causes is a separate but difficult thing, which, conveniently, my brain has decided to try to process during the Holidays. Fun! (Not.)
Then there are the kids -- Every time I see them, unless they are local or family I see regularly, children seem to be shockingly 1 year, 2 years, or 7 years older than the last time I saw them. It's the kids that really get me. Make no mistake -- Seeing a child you haven't seen in 8 years will floor you. And then, there is nothing you can do but admit that you are old. Much older than you've been telling yourself.
I rebelled against the pressures of time for so long. I insisted on maintaining close relationships with friends who lived far away. We had the phone. We had time. We could be the exception to the rule that says all of your most important emotional interactions come from those that are physically and psychologically close to you due to shared experience.
But then, along came my close friends' and families' children, not to mention the pick-up of my career, E's career, the careers of all of those who stayed on the traditional career ladder, and the need to travel if E & I wanted to spend time together as a couple rather than apart. All of a sudden, the rule was right for me, too.
Those I sincerely care about from afar, and lately even those who live close by (and no doubt me for them) belong to the same category as my monthly wine club -- I could swear I make the effort to pick it up every month, and yet, every time I go, I have 4 to 6 months worth of deliveries to sign for.
Oh, Time. You devil. Despite your deleterious effects -- how thankful I am to be here, still enjoying your annoyances... This shall make for some interesting New Year's Resolutions, methinks.
Enjoy your Holidays!