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November 19, 2012

Lisa Madras: I’m about to hit the big 4-0 — how did that happen?

NEW CASTLE — If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

If this were the case, I'd have approximately 18 days before my impending expiration date. Yup, the big FOUR-OH is finally upon me — the day I've been creeping up to with eyes narrowed in suspicion and a sort of wary disbelief in my heart. (Is this really happening? For real? Um ... seriously?)

I don't feel 40 in many ways: I'm single, I'm going back to school, I still find humor in fart jokes, and I still enjoy comic books and zombie movies. (The last three of which might have something to do with the first — who knows?) There's no great career, no white picket fence, no husband to vacation with on anniversaries or to fight with over the bills.

Truly, besides the fact that I have two children, I'm still living basically the same life I had in my late teens and early 20s. The only real exception is that I have a mortgage to pay and the little added responsibility of the sole care and upbringing of two more human beings. (How did that happen and who in the heck left ME in charge?!)

But here I am, with four decades under my belt, scratching my head and wondering when life is gonna get around to starting. Ever hear the expression, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans?” That's me, the perpetual planner.

It turns out that quite a bit of life happened to me in my first 40 years: I was born (I don't remember that, but I'll bet it was wicked crazy!), I won the sixth-grade spelling bee (I still have the trophy to prove it), I went to college, got married, had kids, and even had the dumb luck to convince a newspaper to give me my own column and subsequent blog.

I've met famous musicians, had my writing published in national magazines, and died and was resuscitated on an operating room table. I've suffered from and recovered from depression. I've lost every expendable organ in my body, but I've outlived my husband.

I've experienced loss and love, and loss of love.

I've gained weight and lost weight, and lost my way and found my way. I've made amazing, amazing friends, and nightmarish enemies. I've touched the hearts of some people, and I've hardened the hearts of others. I've been at times an incredible person, and at other times a waste of perfectly good human space.

I've tried and failed. I've tried and succeeded. I've experienced the incomparable miracle of being somebody's mom.

If I had to live my life over, knowing that I had only 40 years to do so, I think there would be only one solitary thing I'd change: I wouldn't live it not realizing that every miraculous moment was the extraordinary life I was waiting around for.

 

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