the question she asked, the answer I didn’t speak

It’s been nearly 2 months since my sister and I have spoken to each other. We aren’t fighting. I just haven’t found the energy, courage, bravery to speak to her since my nervous breakdown in August. We’ve texted a few times. She even sent me a birthday card earlier this month.

Today, my sister texted me and I welcomed the connection. Her text was brief and consisted of just one question: “So how does it feel to be 39?”

I am the same age as my sister (who is now nearly 41) when she received the diagnosis — colon cancer. We both have Lynch Syndrome, and earlier this year during my own yearly colonoscopy my doctor removed my first polyp. Thank God, it hadn’t even become pre-cancerous yet.

But when I read her text this morning, I froze. I choked (and choked up). I didn’t know what to say. Tell my sister everything is just great? Or speak my truth.

My truth is that I feel heartbroken. I grieve the loss of the health I once possessed. I grieve the loss of my mind as I struggle to rise above the depression and menopause. But most of all, I grieve the idea of the person I thought I once was.

I am learning to let go of the version of myself and the life I had constructed in my mind. The super human strength I didn’t possess. The shield and armor I suited up with to hide my fear and pain. [To be honest, that strategy hadn’t been working for a long time anyway.]

My truth is that I haven’t looked at myself in a very long time. I don’t mean in the mirror. That’s easy compared to what I am referring. I mean a long time since I looked inside and acknowledged the darkness I have been avoiding.

How does 39 feel? The truth is that it feels like I am entering the most challenging time of my life. And I need to learn to grieve and forgive myself and to stop numbing myself to the pain.

But I didn’t tell her all that. Instead I texted back: “The jury is still out. But life is looking up.”

[A related side note: Today I met with my therapist Dr. Jasmine and she shared an interesting The Atlantic article about the U Curve, which is another way of conceptualizing the proverbial midlife crisis. I am hopeful, as the article asserts, that everything I’m experiencing has come to pass rather than come to stay.]

[In response to the Daily Prompt: Waiting]





7 thoughts on “the question she asked, the answer I didn’t speak

  1. That can be a tough year for many of us. That rush of hormones does *not help. I have just hit my full year without at 54. To be honest with you this side of 40 has been the best time of my life. Personal growth, learning how to worry less and enjoy more. Belated birthday wishes, may this year be filled with unexpected joyful surprises and good health.

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    • Thank you so much, Laurie! It is nice to hear this ends and that it is normal to feel so abnormal through the menopause experience. Thank you for the birthday wishes and I hope life continues to improve for you as well as you move far beyond the hormone shift as well. 🙂


  2. Stay strong, sweetie! 🙂 I don’t think you should be too worried about this lasting either, one of the best things about being a human is how good we are at adapting. That’s how we’ve stayed alive all these years! (At least that’s how I like to think of it.) Best of luck! ❤️

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    • Thank you so much 🙂 I think the process of adapting can be such a drag, but I am learning to rise strong (Brene Brown’s writing is such an inspiration during this as well – I’m currently listening to her book Rising Strong. ).

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