When I’m 80, sitting in my rocking chair on the back porch of a house by the sea, drinking a glass of iced tea with Simon (he’ll have hot tea…he says iced tea just tastes like “cold tea” which, of course, it is), I want to be holding his hand.
I want our children, our grandchildren, and maybe even a couple of great-grandchildren around us. I want there to be laughter. I want us to laugh then like we laugh now, at ridiculous inappropriate jokes. I want my boys, who will be in their 50s, to be unafraid to say anything in front of me, because I have always let them be exactly who they are. Because I’ve always shown them that they don’t have to perform or behave to be loved and accepted.
I want to be peaceful. To close my eyes and hear the voice of God on the wind, to feel a sense of surrender. I want to reflect back over my life and know that it has been hard at times, but that He has always been good. That He has always been there.
I want to look back on my 30s (50 years ago!), and remember the time my friend died too young, and how I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, and He led me through to the other side. How I had almost lost sight of Him, but now, 50 years later, I see that He was there then, and He has been there every day since.
I want to be amazed at His goodness, at His favour to my family. I want to feel immense gratitude for a marriage that has brought me great joy and unconditional love, for a husband that has shown me what it looks like to be loyal, to be faithful, to be kind and generous.
I want to have spent my life, and not saved it. I want to have given away more than I have kept for myself. I want there to be sons and daughters who are not related by blood – people I have given to and loved and supported, who feel free to pull their cars into my drive and join us on the porch without being invited. People who give away freely because they have been shown how.
I want my girlfriends from my 20s to be my girlfriends of my 80s. I want laughter around the kitchen table, and glasses of wine, and good food, and prayers and tears and gratitude and dumb jokes and competitive card games. I still want sleepovers. I want us to jump off the dock in the middle of the night in our grandma bathing suits, and swim under the moonlight, and then curl up on the porch furniture with hot cups of tea and giggle until too 2am (we don’t have anywhere to be the next morning – we’re 80, for Pete’s sake.)
I want my body to work because I’ve always taken care of it. I want to run like the 88-year-old woman in my old neighbourhood in England who does the London marathon every year. I want to do yoga in my backyard when the sun is going down. I want to pull children onto my lap and read to them, I want to pick them up onto the kitchen counter to watch me cook. I want to keep on moving this body until I don’t live in it anymore.
I want to feel like I have been exactly who I was created to be. I want to feel like I tried everything, gave everything, and lived only to please God and not to please people. I want to know that I took risks and had adventures and spat in the face of fear.
I want to have danced when He said dance, prayed when He said pray, shown up when He said show up.
I want to remember the last time I ever let anxiety take hold of me. And I want that to be a distant memory, like a dream I’ve almost forgotten.
I want to squeeze the hand of my husband every night before we go to bed, and kiss the top of his head and tell him thank you for another day. I want to look at my wrinkled face in the bathroom mirror and feel nothing but deep gratitude – not everyone makes it this far, and because He has given me these years, I have given them all back to Him. I will not begrudge age. I will not hate my wrinkled body or my wrinkled face. I will give thanks for every line that means I have laughed, and that I have cried.
For every line that means I have lived.