On never being 37

This is a bit of a personal post, so if that’s not your thing, then feel free to head back off to somewhere else. Of course, it’s actually a post about avoidance and how the big events of our lives sometimes impact us in strange ways unless we realise it.

I am actually 37. Despite the title of the post, I didn’t get to skip the year. Aliens did not kidnap me nor did I get frozen in time. I have been 37 for many months, but from the day I turned 37, I started saying I was nearly 38. Not nearly 40, or some other universal milestone event. 38.

Why?

When I realised I’ve been doing it, it was immediately obvious. My mother was 38 when my dad died. His death was, hands down, the most monumental and life-altering moment of my existence. The effects of it have reverberated across my family and through the years. At the heart of it, I couldn’t imagine being so young and losing the love of your life. Losing, in the process, your own, in a very real way.

Being 38 has become symbolic to me of something deeper. Something terrifying. Something I am drawn towards and yet don’t really want to arrive. Something that is now, after months of saying that I’m nearly at it, I actually am beginning to approach.

We inherit the things that go before us, whether we want them or not. We can let them define us, or we can acknowledge them and accept them, before walking our own path. I am trying to cling tight to the idea of the latter, even as the clock ticks down towards a time that has become something of a monster in the back of my mind.

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