Today I woke up 37 years old.  Last night I hurt my back and could only pitifully hobble around.  Odd.  I never have back pain despite hauling heavy buckets every which way around here, from pump to kitchen and back out, from humanure bathroom to compost, repeat.  This time I was just picking up a box off the floor and suddenly shooting pain, can’t move.

But somewhere in the middle of last night, when I was tossing and turning to try to get comfortable, I suddenly realized… 37…  And it made sense that this kind of vulnerable pain would manifest on the eve of THIS birthday.

37.  My only association with this age is a thought that went through my (and many people’s) head four and a half years ago:

But she’s ONLY 37.  How could she have late stage lung cancer?  She’s ONLY 37…

My eldest sister, Angella.  Five years older than me, five inches shorter than me.  The day Caden turned 3 I got a call that the doctors saw something that they were afraid might be cancer.  I thought, “but she’s only 37…”

Not only that but she was running mountain races all that summer, never a smoker, a pint-sized powerhouse of intense energy.  And she was only 37…

Four and a half years later, she’s beaten the cancer flat like the many running shoes she’s worn her way through.  It will always be there, but it’s no longer discernible on any scans and she lives her life how she chooses.  She even ran her first marathon two years after her diagnosis.  I ran beside her the second half and watched her mentally fight her way through the grueling final miles to her goal, determined to complete a dream.


And now, I am 37.  It is not that I think that comes with a dire diagnosis.  It reminds me of when my father turned 53, the age his father passed.  It is an age that takes me back to a powerful and pivotal time.  One so powerful it can manifest in mysterious ways, like back pain (that is now on the mend).  So powerful it can send someone off to live in a yurt in the woods….

There are many reasons that we ended up on the path we’re on, but “37” was most definitely a big trigger in there.  A direct confrontation with the fact that none of us are guaranteed a long life to eventually get around to doing things we might dream about doing “someday.”  That someday must be NOW, if there’s any way to do so.  And so we are off on our fool’s journey, never quite certain if it will all fall together how we dream, but moving forward anyway because it feels like REAL living.  The kind that doesn’t always go smoothly but sure feels like it leads to no regrets.

An awareness and understanding of death raises our state of life. When we are cognizant of the reality and inevitability of death we begin to seek the eternal, and become determined to make the most valuable use of each moment of life. – Daisaku Ikeda

As I turn 37, I give a nod to my “big” sister Angella for that unwitting lesson she gave me to really LIVE.  I wonder what she’ll think when she gets my chiropractor bill along with my thank you note… 🙂

11 thoughts on ““37”

  1. I agree you have to live every day as it may be your last. I hope your back gets better soon. I turned 59 on Thursday and I so agree with what you said. Have a good one. debbie hatt(i work with Janel)

  2. Wow that is some pretty powerful memories of the hardest thing that our family has ever had to live through. It made us realize how amazing and supportive our family and friends are. And life marches on with all of us a little different. Happy Birthday My Mel. Mom

  3. Always a tearjerker… 🙂

    Definitely a time that made us all reevaluate the way we were living our lives. I can see the changes in all of us. Each day is a blessing. A time to try new things, live our dreams and embrace the special relationships we have!
    Love you!

  4. I hesitate to add a comment to such a powerful blog entry – in comparison much of the life that we construct around ourselves seems trivial. There is much to be said for living in the “now” and as we get older this does not become less important. Congratulations to Angella and to you – you both have lots to celebrate!

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