I just had a birthday. I wasn’t going to say “celebrated”. Just, had.
Like most women, nay, all women, age is something that I am very aware of. Every year added brings new worries about lines, weight, jobs, relevance, desirability, etc. and this year was no different. And it was a great year! Don’t get me wrong. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t trying to cling to my youth. So, I had a birthday. Until yesterday.
Yesterday news broke of Anthony Bourdain taking his life. Bourdain has always been a favorite of mine, near guru. That dark, raspy voice, equal parts aggressive and vulnerable, and lithe sexiness was always captivating to me. In him I saw a kindred spirit; always traveling, eating, meeting new people, searching for local experiences, drinking and swearing. He always spoke to me, for I knew his story. So similar to my own. In earlier seasons of him shows you could clearly see the demons, and he would even talk about them. The drugs when he was in the restaurant. The drugs and alcohol playing tricks on him. But in his latest show for CNN, you could see lightness in him. He had met a woman he loved. Was working on a relationship with his daughter. He had taken up some causes that he was passionate about. He just seemed, lighter. And then the news. Gone. Gone of his own doing. Gone.
So then, you know, I started thinking about death. Like you do. We travel on this earth, not knowing when death is coming. Is it tomorrow? Is it 40 years from now? What a cruel trick of the universe, holding this above our heads. How unfair to be aware of a mystery and only gain clarity when your physical body can’t appreciate it. I thought about my Grandmother, who lived 82 years of perfect health, only to spend the last 9 months of her life being eaten alive by a disease. Thats rude.
But, then, I thought about the profound sadness that someone must feel if they need to greet this Mystery of Death on their own accord. To be so torn and broken by the way of the world that meeting this Unknown, this Demon, and all It’s uncertainties seems like a better option than remaining. That, I believe is the cruelest trick.
When the Demon’s and Death conspire, that is the most unkind of all. That’s when we lose people.
So I find myself looking at the options: The Mystery or the Demon? For those of you that know me or have read my earlier posts, you know that depression is something I have struggled with for quite sometime. I am enlisted in the War, and I fight. Not always bravely. Not always gracefully. But I fight. Not every battle goes my way, but, the War? The War I will never lose. I know this. I choose the Mystery over the Demon. I do not shame anyone who chooses the Demon. I do not judge them for a minute. The Demon is a cunning, conniving and seducing little bastard. But I am sad. I am sad because I wish I could have been a part of their army. I would draft myself if I could.
If you are fighting and it does not look like it’s going well, let me know. Let someone know. We will arm ourselves and meet you where you stand. That’s the thing about the Demon. It shrinks when It faces anything other than an Army of one.
So, Mystery it is. And I woke up today. I woke up next to someone I love. And I just had a birthday.
No. I celebrated.