As a child I was shy. I would cover my eyes when people sang ‘happy birthday’, I was embarrassed by the attention on myself and wishing someone else could share my special day with me. Although, as birthdays went on, I found myself enjoying the occasion, inviting my friends round for trampoline, swimming and roller skating parties.
However, at eighteen, a milestone in people’s eyes, I was unsure of who I was, afraid of what people thought and ultimately terrified of the future. I wasn’t a child anymore.
That was different when I was five, I used to jump into the sea with my clothes on and my parents shouting at me to come in before the tide swept me away. I remember etching the mud with sticks and creating art with the surroundings. My imagination was always my best attribute. Yet as time went on, I lost myself. I lost the child within me, and focused so much on growing up, that one day I looked in the mirror and shocked myself. I didn’t laugh the way I used to on holidays, I never cried. I was numb to emotion. Numb to the people who left and the people who hurt me. Torturing myself by looking back to the past wishing I could redo moments, or erase them completely.
My twenties were the best days of my life; I was still young, managed to lose the weight and was finally comfortable in my own skin. Finally. However, I was more confused than ever.
Mid-twenties and into my thirties I watched as my friends found love, got married and had beautiful children. I didn’t want that. I wanted to travel and experience life to its core. I didn’t want to be in one place and be suffocated by the lifeless surroundings.
By my mid-thirties my family were asking the question “When are you going to think about settling down?” they chorused, niggling at the itch that I would never scratch. You see, I never believed that everyone should follow a convention, or have the same aspirations or life plan. I’d lose myself completely otherwise. Yet by forty, I did just that. I married, had two children that I adore. It’s funny isn’t? How one day everyone caves in for the sake of a number. A number telling you that your time is slowly wasting away, like sand in an hourglass, softly and slowly until suddenly you have nothing left.
I made the most of my time in my fifties and sixties, and by some miracle, I was still with my husband up until he died at 89. But now in my hospital bed, with my children beside me, married with their own children, careers, and a life, I write my memories down and I find myself smiling. What a life I whisper under my breath. What a life.