What it feels like to age faster than my friends

Recently I have begun to realize that what I am experiencing at age 67 is what most in my age cohort will experience later. Because of my present health concerns, lung disease and a few serious brain injuries, I feel now what most in my age group may not feel for a decade or two. This has come home to me with a few recent occurrences.

First is my upcoming 50th high school reunion next summer. At first I got confused about whether it was this year or next year, and when I realized it was next summer that they were trying to schedule for, I had to respond with, “I’m not sure if I’ll even be here by then…Either way I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to come.” 

I have also recently heard from a few friends from decades ago. My best friend from high school wrote out of the blue to “catch up.” She is probably a typical 67-year-old who recently retired, loves to travel, and is proud of her children and grandchildren. They seem to have very few health problems. I told her the truth about my situation. I didn’t hear anything back, period.

Same with a lover/friend from my mid-20s. He sent me a brief e-mail in April saying, “Hope all is well.” I sent him a summary of my life now and received stark silence in return when I told him the truth about what is happening with me.

One thing is for certain, my life experiences in the past decade or so have changed my outlook on life. One cannot suffer a traumatic brain injury and fractured ribs, with periods of unconsciousness over 24 hours, without seeing life differently. Now I see that experience as a gift, one which greatly raised my appreciation of life while showing me that death is truly not so unusual or scary. We may simply experience an accident, lose consciousness and it’s over. Is that so bad?

Losing my ability to breathe without oxygen has taught me compassion for those who lose any basic ability that others take for granted. I know now how others can suffer from judgments from others and how harsh I may have been by unconsciously judging those with limited abilities through no fault of their own.

These challenges and insights I face now are the same as many in my age group will face eventually. I’m just getting an early start. I find my experiences so revealing about disability and aging. I try to face all new experiences with a sense of wonder and curiosity. Too bad others seem to want to avoid looking at my life now and possibly their our future.

8 thoughts on “What it feels like to age faster than my friends

  1. Some people just don’t know how to respond, their own fear sends them into denial. It’s easier not to communicate. But I find that extremely rude. But that’s just me. I appreciate all the lessons you are learning. They are profound. Sending love and hugs.

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  2. We don’t like to be reminded of our mortality, I guess.
    I’m just appreciative of your going ahead and ‘plowing the road’ by sharing your experiences with the rest of us!
    You have rare strength, Laura!

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  3. Laura, you have always been tenacious in your hold on life. Your connection to nature often pulls you through. Your love for those
    in your life MAKES YOU YOUNGER than many. And finally your mental strength. I believe when we lose some of the physical the mental takes over. That is certainly the case with you. Blessings, Beth

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  4. Beth! I had no idea you had been watching me so closely for the past few years! Yes, my love of nature and those who surround me keep me going! I also have learned to observe and appreciate everyday my mental strength and agility. Thanks so much for your support and full speed ahead! Love, Laura

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  5. I suspect these people who ran from you when they knew the truth may have been embarrassed by not knowing an appropriate way to respond, but (in my humble opinion) there was no excuse for not responding to your information. Even a “I don’t know what to say; I’m so sorry” would have been much better than ghosting, I’m thinking. I learned early, with my Mom’s diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis when I was in elementary school and her sudden death when I was 12 (and my father having suffered a TBI years before I was born, leaving him suffering from seizures the rest of his life) that health is not guaranteed and that we should appreciate every day we are granted where we are capable of enjoying life. That, in a way, was a blessing, one I didn’t recognize as such until my later years.

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