This is 40

“That’s all we get, but it was so fun!” – Jimmy Laird, Shrinking (on Apple TV)

Forty years to the universe is a fraction of a blip in time. To humans, forty years is a long-ish length of time for many things: working, marriage, friendship. An invitation to your forty-year class reunion can be like a splash of cold water to the face. “How has it been forty years?” we wonder.

Hard to believe the 1980s were forty years ago. Billie Jean and Every Breath You Take are forty years old. Cabbage Patch dolls and the Mario Bros. are forty years old. Return of the Jedi and Risky Business are forty years old. Ronald Reagan was president.

Earlier this month, my daughter, Carlene, turned forty. Talk about cold water to the face. It was just a few years ago that I turned forty, right? I remember it so clearly, and yet…wait a minute…that was nineteen years ago.

Tomorrow, (March 22), my grief turns forty. At least, my first big and abiding grief. And unlike the many years between graduation and reunion, I can’t say, “Has it been forty years already?” because when someone you love dies, even a day without them is a lifetime.

I hadn’t planned for my grief memoir to be published the fortieth year after Bruce’s death, yet it feels appropriate. A reminder to those who have lost loved ones yesterday or many years ago that grief, like love, doesn’t disappear. I hope that message comes across loud and clear in An Obesity of Grief.

To help me through this week, I’m participating in Writing for Healing*, a class led by the incredibly generous and compassionate Diane Zinna. Writing in community with people who are grieving different types of losses is comforting, and it lessens the loneliness I feel during this time of year. Lots of tears, for sure, but that’s why god made Kleenex.

This is me and six-month-old Carlene in 1983. She had no idea her mama was so sad, and no idea how much joy she brought me in my grief.


*Writing for Healing is an expanded version of Grief Writing Sundays, which Diane leads via Zoom every other Sunday afternoon. If you’re looking for a creative outlet for your grief, or just want to write in community with others who “get it,” click here for more information about this amazing (and free) class. Camera is optional!

2 thoughts on “This is 40

    1. I had the best of times and worst of times in the 80s. Made my best and worst choices, too. I think my “best” decade so far is the 00s. It was a time of…I don’t know…levity, maybe?

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