15 there’s still time for you,
22 I feel her too,
33 you’re on your way,
Every day’s a new day…
There’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live…
Five for Fighting, “100 Years”
My grandma came over to visit one afternoon a couple of weeks ago as I was sitting on the deck with the dogs, getting some writing done. She sat down next to me and started talking, and I half-listened as I formatted and edited and wondered if there was a suitable synonym for “remember.”
But then things changed as I looked up and began to really listen. Soon, I began to understand what she was saying beneath the story she was telling.
She was lonely.
She was bored.
She longed for life but was afraid to live it, afraid to start over without my grandfather.
She was afraid for what the future might mean with all of it’s uncertainty.
I started thinking about this — thinking how we’re so different but that, in many ways, despite the sixty-plus years between us, we’re very much the same.
I have a confession to make. I always wanted to be 30. I know, some people dread it, but I always thought it was the perfect age for what it should mean. By this time — theoretically — you would have kids and a house and a job and you would be settled and happy and financially sound. You would finally be the adult you always imagined yourself to be.
My grandma echoed these thoughts to me as she said that she wanted to see me happy, wanted to see me married with kids and house and career that I loved. And while it still sounds nice and more settled than where I am now, I realized that I didn’t necessarily want that for myself. At least, not quite yet.
Because I think I’ve also begun to realize that life doesn’t come in a nice little package like that, no matter how much you may want it to.
Life isn’t necessarily sequential, as we may want to believe. Yes, there are milestones — graduation, career, marriage, house, kids, retirement. But there are the little moments in between all of that that lead to those milestones, the steps it takes to walk that journey. There are struggles and trials and little successes and achievements along the way that build up to a full life. And there are things we experience that we can’t ever expect.
I see that from my grandmother. Ever since we lost my grandpa, she’s become a woman I sometimes don’t recognize. Suddenly, she’s struggling to navigate the world again on her own, unsettled, uncertain, longing for a time when things were easier, more simple, trying to find stability in chaos. She wants to do things, but is afraid and unsure of how to do them. A life she had planned out has been uprooted.
It all sounds too familiar.
I listened as we sat for more than an hour, as she shared stories of her life. And as I watched her, I couldn’t help but think: here we are, generations apart — one in her mid-twenties, one in her late-eighties, a lifetime lingering between us — yet both in a similar place. She, having experienced, grown, changed, seen, met, felt it all. Me, barely begun, and yet eager to experience, grow, change, see, meet, feel it all.
We’re so different for all that we have and haven’t done. And yet we’re still there, in that same place — a place of uncertainty and a bit of fear and loneliness and confusion.
It’s a connection that I can’t quite explain, but it’s there, lingering below the surface, hidden by a difference in age and experience. But maybe those differences aren’t so great, after all.