Lessons from the future past

I’m turning 40 in just over a month. That’s okay. I’m not feeling crazy or mad about it. At least not yet. Aging is natural and my life is like 95% good. I have a good family, plenty of knitting to do, books to read, places to see, and a couple solid guys in my life to love. My blessings are many.

What I am feeling, however, and I know this will come as a shock to you, dear reader, is melancholy.

Two summers ago my friend Dana died the month before her 40th birthday. And I keep thinking, in this month leading up to my birthday, about how Dana used to give me advice from 2 years in the future.

EG “You can’t know this now, Carolyn, because you are much too young, but when you’re 27, you’ll know not to tighten all the screws on your Ikea furniture until everything is put together.” 

That honestly stands as some of the best advice I’ve ever received in my entire life.

By the end of her too-short life, she had become a cautionary tale and that is still really hard for me to reconcile with the Dana I knew. The Dana who was full of talent and lessons. The brilliant shining Dana I knew and shared a home with doesn’t match the lost, unwell Dana she became.

I want to have something clever to say about addiction and death and the holes that get left behind in our lives. I want to make something meaningful out of those holes. These patched up bits inside me have to be there for some purpose, don’t they? Except I don’t think I believe that. We survive these losses, these sorrows, because we have to. We don’t learn any lessons except how to go on despite the presence of sinkholes that sneak up on us when we least expect them.

That’s right, an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race might make you cry when two glamorous drag queens talk about how they were able to conquer their addictions and an anger will well up in you at the absolute unfairness of it all. The fucking injustice! Not that they should have lost their battles, but that she couldn’t come out victorious too. That there wasn’t enough victory to go around.

Maybe as I get older I’ll find out some more answers. I’ll have to do it without the aid of my old friend though. At least I’ll have well built flat pack furniture and so many good memories to help keep the hard ones in balance on the days when they sneak up on me.

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