I vaguely remember that woman from ten years ago. I wonder if I will even recognize her. She will be waiting at the coffee shop for me. She, who is me at fifty-three years old, was always more than prompt. My nerves are getting the best of me as I park the car to go inside. Please, please, don’t have a panic attack now, I tell myself. She would never understand that. The car is the same one that she purchased about a year ago. One of our best purchases ever.
While walking to her at the little table, my thoughts are consumed with how to appear confident and in control when that was the last thing I was feeling. She is smiling at me. That’s a good sign. Her makeup is perfect, her hair done just so, and forty pounds lighter. We hug, long and heartfelt. There is a part of me who misses that wonderfully self-assured woman. We sit and sip our lattes over small talk for the first few minutes. Strangely enough, she is as pleased to see me as I am to see her.
I will call the younger me Patty the P.A. and my current self, Patty. We are more than aware that Patty the PA is in the happiest place in her life. Her children are grown and finally out on their own. Her marriage is like a second honeymoon each day. And she has fulfilled her dream of being a Physician Assistant and is working at the University of California at Irvine Hospital in the hepatology department. Financially and professionally she is in a good space.
I set down my cup and begin to tell her about what we go through in her next ten years. The first thing that blurts out of my mouth is that there will be tragedy along the way. I see the panic in her eyes when she loudly asks if it was Alex. It is not fair to tell her and carry it with her. I explain that there will be some difficult years that include some losses, but with the help of family and friends we survive. Not only do we survive, we gain a whole new perspective on our life. She is amazed when I tell her that she retires at a young age and finds her calling, her passion, and her life. I also tell Patty the PA that she will never believe what an amazing relationship we have with our children. This is the best news that she could hear at this time of her life.
Before we part I remind her to stay strong, love with all of her heart and laugh whenever she can.