When I was nearing the end of my twenties, I was excited — probably abnormally excited — to turn 30. Unlike the majority of my friends at the time, I was single and I desperately longed for someone to build a life with. I wanted what seemed to come so easily to so many except me, and I often questioned what was wrong with me that it hadn’t happened for me yet. Looking back, I can see that I placed all my hope for the life I wanted in this decade unfolding before me. I felt with every fiber of my being that what I’d thought I’d find in my twenties would come to me in my thirties.
And, boy, did it. My thirties were absolutely epic.
Yes, I received all the blessings I’d prayed for — but I also suffered more loss than I could have imagined. My sweet PawPaw’s long battle with Alzheimer’s came to an end shortly after I turned 32. And less than seven short months later, I unexpectedly lost my dad. I was reeling. I’d lost the two most influential men in my life in what felt like no time at all.
Those early days of grief are a blur sometimes, but that journey ultimately led me to “my person” days before I turned 33, just 57 days after my dad died. We were engaged eighteen months after we met and married a year after that. I was 35 when we wed, meaning I was solidly in “advanced maternal age” territory, so my fertility was a definite concern. We tried for almost a year before seeing our first positive pregnancy test — just 3 days after our first fertility consultation. Unfortunately, I lost my beloved grandmother 13 days later, before I’d even gotten the chance to tell her we were expecting (we wanted to surprise her with the sonogram).
So many blessings, so many losses…
As my thirties progressed, we left our shoebox apartment in Mid-City for a lovely home on the Northshore. We were especially grateful for the extra space once those Covid lockdowns started less than 8 months later. While 2020 was easier on us than on so many others who lost loved ones during the pandemic, it still wasn’t an easy year. I was laid off from my job after a decade and also discovered that some friendships ending can feel very much like grieving a death.
Today, I have a job with a wonderful company that affords me opportunities I probably wouldn’t have had at my old job. And I realized recently that some of my most trusted confidantes today were barely on my radar two short years ago — and likely would’ve never become as close to me if other some friendships hadn’t ended. Marilyn Monroe supposedly once said, “Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.” And isn’t that the truth?
Perhaps the biggest lesson my thirties have taught me is that many of life’s most beautiful experiences can be intertwined with the most devastating ones — and that’s okay. It surely doesn’t always feel okay in the moment, but making a conscious effort to try to see whatever silver lining there may be has helped me make it through those times. The sad moments can make us appreciate the happy ones more if we just let them.
There’s a lot of peace that has come with accepting that so much of life isn’t black and white — we live life in the gray.
At 29, I could’ve never fathomed that I could look forward to anything more than I looked forward to my thirties. But here I sit, hours left before I welcome 40, and I couldn’t be more excited! Because I’m sitting in my cozy home, next to a husband I adore, with the video baby monitor bouncing back and forth between our sweetly sleeping son and daughter, as our newest addition does somersaults in my belly. Everything I’ve ever wanted. My heart so full it could burst.
Things may not have happened on my timeline, but they certainly happened. I cannot wait to soak these next beautiful and chaotic years in, even though I know they’ll likely go by in a blur. So as I bid farewell to a decade that was full of the highest of highs and lowest of lows, I do so with the most grateful of hearts.
Here’s to being able to accept the lows along with the highs, the happy with the sad.
To embracing living life in the gray.