I turn 40-years-old today, December the Second, and for some reason this age is supposed to bother me. Social commentary has preached from its pulpit for so long that 40 is a hard age for women, that women dread watching the 9 turn to 0, and they will do anything to turn those numbers back again.
But I rejoice in 40 and I rejoice in December even if I marvel that it is here once more.
Can it possibly be December again along with all its gift-wrapped endings? Yet here we are again facing the end of another brutal year once more. 2016 has not been kind to us in so many ways; regardless here I am on my 40th birthday marveling that I am even here.
Seventeen days from now it will be seven years from the time my life was destroyed right before my eyes. It will be seven years from this time that I will have sat across a desk from a contemptuous man with a dark heart and have my own heart disappear from my sight. Breathing will become an effort. Smiling will become a task. Leaving my home will become a trial to endure.
Each year since that day has stretched longer than the one before and while the memories still hang along with each ornament on the Christmas tree they no longer hold their power over me.
I have anticipated this countdown in Decembers past, meeting me with patient questions for celebration and reflection. It comes for me each end of year and waits for me on the porch until I have put away my Thanksgiving decorations and swept away the fall leaves. We’ve traveled my story, December and I, through darkness and tears, through suicide watch and staring at walls, and sometimes fleeting senses of Fine. But this year is different.
This year on my 40th birthday, I already see the day that set my world on fire seven years ago coming. I’ve swept away the ashes to find my way again, learning that destruction can no longer be my life’s cartography. I rebuilt my heart to find solace for my spirit, yearning for connection to my Self again.
And it’s seventeen days until —
and it will be seven years since —
And I’m not counting up or counting down to anything anymore.
Today is my 40th birthday and it seems you and I have met before, December.