Sunday, October 22, 2006

The second half of life

Tonight we had dinner with wonderful friends - a regular Sunday night ritual. Since it was our wedding anniversary (6! thanks for asking!) yesterday, and because everything's been hectic and crazy, and we needed the reminder, we had a little renewal of our vows ceremony. I wore the same cute wreath in my hair I wore six years ago. The kids looked at magazines and threw pillows while someone read this poem, someone read this psalm and then Jeff and I held hands and read a few simple words that began "Husband, I am blessed to be your wife" and ended " joy and in sorrow, as long as we both shall live."

We are also blessed to have geeky friends who would do a thing like this for and with us. If you are married, by the way, or partnered, and havent said those promise words to each other for a while, I recommend it. It's powerful and sweet.

Afterward, our 20-years-older-than-us friend said, "The first half of life is all about accumulating - stuff, children, positions, information. The second half of life is all about letting go of all that stuff you acquired in the first half."

I will be 38 next month. Am I entering the second half? The loss this month has been considerable. For example, by the number of people I run into unexpectedly, I would say that a certain big ciy annonymoity I've enjoyed in Seattle for 8 years is now gone. Several people around me have also suffered real losses in the last couple of weeks and so has our family. The van is gone, my hearing aids (not essential, but helpful) are eaten, and tonight we came to terms with one more letting go.

Our dear new Hank, who has brought us so much joy and excitement in the last two months, has to find a new home. He bit our boy yesterday, and although it was not a serious bite, it was scary and it did break the skin and we just can't have a dog that nips around a boy who is as active as ours. Unless you, dog lovers, have any other suggestions or ideas, I'll be taking him back to foster care on Tuesday.

It's hard not to cry while I write this - we are all feeling this loss deeply, but also feeling clear that we simply cannot guarantee the safety of our son, and our friends and their children around this dog.

Maybe that's what this second half, if I'm in the second half, of life is all about. It's about being clear about what has to be done, even if it's terrible, and then doing it. At least I hope clarity is what it means. Because I'm ready for a little of that.

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