The Wild, Incredible Gift of Growing Old



I turn thirty this month. I feel much older inside; frayed and chipped and sagging.

I don’t mind so much what the outside looks like anymore. My insides are what need nurturing.

I don’t mind because it’s a gift to have a body, present and whole on this earth. A body that is free to do what I want it to do (most of the time).

Since my three-year-old daughter passed away, I’ve come to realize how pathetic our obsession with looking good is.

We are always lacking something, it seems.
Straight teeth. Nice hair. Wrinkle-less skin. Perk. Oomph.
We are so hard on ourselves.

And it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t.

I held my daughter and wailed into the folds of her neck as she passed into eternity. I held her perfect body, that will never grow into womanhood. Everything about her was divine. I know she wouldn’t care if she grew up with crooked teeth or imperfect skin. She would have been thrilled to just grow up.

A few weeks after she died, we went to Hawaii. I wore a bikini the whole time.

I wanted to show off my belly. A belly that stretched to carry two nine-pound babies. At first I was scared. What will people think when they see me? A sense of shame crept in. They will see one child, and my two-child belly, and probably shake their heads. Poor gal.

I panicked. They will think I only have one baby! And I look like this! I heard myself saying these words to my husband. And I recoiled.

My daughter just died and I’m worried about what others will think?

So, I wore the bikini proudly. I got a tan and watched the stretch marks fade. I saw my soft skin and the scars from my spinal surgery, now white and gently wrinkled and I was content. This is what I look like.

This is my body.

A body that carried two children with a fused spine. A body that held one child until she took her last breath and now holds a thriving one-year-old. This body is strong. This body may feel broken at times, but it is perfect because I say so.

We have the ability to accept ourselves. We have the ability to shrug our shoulders and say, “Hey, World, I’m beautiful because I think so. This is what my body looks like, and oh, what a joy it is to live in it.”

It is a gift to age. It is a wild, incredible gift to get wrinkles and watch our bodies slowly soften and gray. Never take it for granted. Embrace the changes. Welcome them lustily, with grace and acceptance.