My almost-11-year-old is compiling a wish list for his birthday. He wants a drum set (this would help but not eliminate his drumming on any and every available surface with hands, chopsticks, shoes, etc). He’d like more Big Nate books. Desires a computer only on which to write stories (no internet, no games). He’d like but won’t get an endless supply of candy (though since his birthday is right after Halloween, it sort of feels that way). He highlights the stuff he really wants to differentiate it from the items he only kind of wants (like green hair dye). He is so intent on writing down exactly what he wants, noting all of his wishes as though if he doesn’t no one could possibly know what is on his list, even though what I know he wants more than anything is to feel better.
I am four days shy of my 40th, which is to say I am in the last few days of my 30s. My sweet mother got my closest girlfriends together for a weekend of fun in NYC with walks, talks, amazing food, karaoke, and huge guffaws. What else could I want?
I have a family who loves me, friends near and far, a career that while inconsistent and often exasperating brings me creative and intellectual fulfillment, a drooling beast of a dog, a warm house, a well-stocked pantry. I laugh daily. I guess I wish for more of that.
And yet, on this day, I also wish for good hospital results, better news.
What we want as we get older – or at least what I want – aren’t things to bang on but more minutes in the day. More months in a year. We cannot control those. We cannot work for the extra hours. We can prioritize and enjoy and cherish. I’ll blow out candles with my husband and kids and friends this weekend. There will be tiramisu and salted caramel cookies and pumpkin brownies. And wishes. Will I wish to publish more books? For a pair of boots that don’t squeak when I walk and sometimes – but not always – leak?
No. I will close my eyes and wish for health. For more time.