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I turned 45 this past week.

I’m not sure why, but this number is landing in a way that no other number has. And I think, ‘How can that be? It’s just a number, right?’

I’ve been reflecting on what my parents were up to when they were 45:

In 1984, Mom was still packing her eight year old daughter’s school lunches in the mornings and working at the Academy, knitting afghans and dish cloths, baking lots of birthday cakes, and worrying about everything. She hadn’t yet opened the pizza shop, and she was not yet mourning the death of her own mother, which would follow just four years later.

In 1992, Dad was still a machinist at MMPCO by day, delivering Edie’s Pizza in the evenings, driving me to school in the morning in the little ‘shitbox’ Nissan (his words) as we listened to The Allman Brothers at Fillmore East over and over and over again, and then watching me graduate from high school rather unceremoniously (a year early, no cap and gown/marching to Elgar stuff–I just picked up my diploma from a secretary in the office, and that was that).

For my 45th, I was home with Shawn in the midst of a pandemic, in front of a screen, eating homemade pizza (imagine that) and uttering the most commonly used phrase of this time in human history: ‘You’re on mute.’ I had a really fun virtual hangout with friends and family. Some folks Zoomed in for a few minutes, some stayed for the whole two hours. There were beautiful songs, hilarious stories, moments of joy and grief and cheer. It was, in some sense, a microcosm of what my life has become—an opportunity to shared and be shared, to connect and be connected, to remind myself of the beautiful people in my life and also of how much joy, love, music, and mirth have passed through so many beloved hearts and hands in my life.

I do wish my parents could have been there, and that they had lived to see what I’ve done with my life. Would they have looked at the life I have built at 45—very different from theirs—and given their blessing? Or would my mom have worried herself sick about, well, everything, like she always did, while Dad stayed quiet and kept leaning into his work ethic and his love of music and his fantastic jokes? It’s likely that it would be a mixture of all those things.

When Mom turned 45, she still had another 22 years to go. When my father turned 45, he had just six years left.

These milestones are growing more significant—and more frequent—as I get older. A little more silver up top, and—hopefully—a little wiser, a little less prone to reactivity, a little more careful with food and language and my heart.

It all brings to mind that lovely quote from Rumi:

‘With life as short as a half taken breath, don’t plant anything but love.’