A dose of vaccine – a dose of poignant reality

I got my first COVID vaccine this week. I am grateful.

There are lessons and messages everywhere these days, or perhaps I am simply more open to receiving them. I looked around at all of us receiving the vaccine ….the looks of fear, relief, hope, fatigue at all that we have gone through. A strange bond and connection among strangers. This I expected, in a way.

What I did not expect was the dose of reality that came with it. I looked around at all of us, and was struck at how this was a group of older people, over 65, receiving the dose. And I was struck that I am now among them. I do not feel 67 on the inside, but clearly I am that age. I did not feel a part of this group. Is that denial of my age? Is it that I do not feel the same age on the inside as on the outside, as what my driver’s license states? As the lines and changes in my body remind me of at times? How did I get here? Where did all those years go? I remember my father jokingly saying “Who is that old man in the mirror?” I now understand much more what he was saying.

It is a strange feeling. An almost unreal feeling. I struck up a brief conversation with the woman behind me in line waiting at the hospital for our vaccines (6 feet apart, of course). I was amused and a bit chagrined and saddened to hear her quickly tell me that she was waiting in line for her elderly parents….as if to make sure that I knew that she was not yet old enough to be in this line, to be included in this group. As if this would be a shameful thing?

What an interesting time of life. I feel in some ways more alive than ever, as I get closer to the end of my time, whenever that may be. I feel more grateful for each moment, for each feeling (some are more fun than others….), for each breath, for each day that I get to be alive. I cry much more easily these days, feel more sensitive to everything around me. I am grateful for that as well, as feelings are such a gift that being alive gives us. I feel sadness at losses (and they come quicker these days – losing friends, family, pets….) I feel sadness at the loss of my youth, of my delight and anticipation of the future. And yet, and yet….I feel such connection to the earth, to all that is around me. I feel such depth inside me, such intensity of experience, such sweetness of memories and appreciation for new ones created still.

I have been taking voice lessons since my retirement. I want to learn to better express my voice….spoken, written, and sung. The latest song that my voice teacher has begun working on with me today is “Autumn Leaves”. I told her that I would probably be moved to tears by and during this song. Her response – that this was a great thing and to be cherished and allowed. Indeed. Indeed we can cherish the autumn leaves as they fall….with their glorious colors. We, too, have glorious colors in our own autumn. I want to embrace this time and let my colors glow…..until it is time to let go. But, for now, I am still here….still glowing….still alive….With things to say, stories to write, and songs to sing.

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