July is a sneaky month, one minute cool days and colder nights give way to long days, heavy air, and sunshine in New England. I always gauge the progression of summer by how close my birthday in early August is, and from that point on summer seems to fly right into fall.
So I was taken by surprise when we wrapped up the fourth of July and my birthday was looming in a month. I’m at that point where I sometimes forget how old I actually am, because in my mind I’ve been 27 since April… rounding up for convenience.
But this year, 27 seems scarily close to 30– which was always the point in which I would gauge the progression of my life. After all, (morbid alert!) the life expectancy for CF during the time when I became acutely aware that I could quite possibly die young was always early 30’s.
Birthday milestones have always been important to me, sometimes scary, but always celebratory. It means I made it another year, it means I’m moving towards being the 50% OVER the median life expectancy, and not under. It’s a chance for me to reflect upon where I thought I’d be, and celebrate about where I actually am.
Growing up, these mid to late 20’s were always and constantly a blur for me when I gazed into the crystal ball of my future, such is life with a life-threatening chronic illness. Though I knew it was 50% likely I’d make it into my 30’s, I also knew that this age was a time where many people with CF began to see their health decline, and I suppose I’d always prepared for the worst.
That’s why I never made any definitive plans for where I would have liked my life to be. I’d just be happy if I got there, one day at a time. And in the meantime, I’d enjoy it the best I could.
But a few weeks ago, we moved into our first house… and a few weeks after my 27th birthday I’ll be getting married.
Someone remarked to me recently how lucky I am to be buying a house at “such a young age,” and I laughed.
Because this was way more than that. How lucky am I to be doing normal adult things and planning for my normal adult future? How lucky am I that my 30’s are not a blurred out nothing that I’d rather not think about?
Every 20-30-something hopes they’ll settle into the American dream at some point don’t they? Get married, get a house, maybe a dog, and fill it with some kids? And instagram the shit out of it, guaranteeing over 200 likes when they reach those milestones.
But there’s something about these milestones for me. There’s something triumphant about reaching them, when I never ever thought I would.
And there’s something humbling too, about finally reaching a point of not measuring your life by some point you may or may not reach, but instead just doin’ the best you can, living it day by day.
Who knows what the next few years will bring, but do any of us really know? Can any of us really count on a future with 100% certainty? Yeah, some people want to accomplish great feats, see the world, jump from airplanes. But I’d not only shit my pants if I ever jumped out of an airplane, I’m also just happy I get to live the life any ol’ person gets to live, embracing the little stuff, and celebrating the milestones that I never thought I’d reach.
Tonight, Kyle and I made dinner together in our new house, in our new kitchen, with our new pots and pans. Gone were the cheap set we had to get us by these past couple years.
With him chopping away while I carefully placed pork chops in the sizzling pan, though it was a simple moment, it was so seemingly adult. Any other 26 year old would gauk at how lame and adult-like their life had become, perhaps mourning the childhood left behind. But I relished in it, and I was so very happy to be where I am, in all its simplicity, feeling grateful to be able to chop peppers in my own kitchen, and looking forward to a future still uncertain, but with a bit more hope.
Today, the median age of survival has spiked all the way up to around 40. And instead of moving my point to a new place clouded in blurriness, I’ve finally figured out that those points don’t matter one bit, because I’m too busy enjoying (almost) 27 to be worried about a little dust on my crystal ball.