It was the cappuccino friend who caught the lady’s attention again with a comment concerning the concept of freedom — she said that this was the time in our lives to compensate for things, to reorganize the closets, paint the lavatory, take a course, perhaps change jobs.
The girl looked over.
“Is that about right? I asked her, laughing.
“It’s actually not a lot concerning the freedom to fill your time with things,” she said, after clearing her throat. “It’s not even about getting older. It’s about determining what makes you are feeling free.”
And he or she didn’t mean free as in doing whatever you wish, she explained. Moderately, free, as in a lightness of being, having a way that things are going to be OK — that you will be OK.
The girl said her kids had been out of the home for a few years, and that, as a single mom, once they left for college, she grieved. But she also filled her time by starting a small business, travelling and volunteering — it was what all of the children’ mothers were doing, she said, and it was positive, nevertheless it didn’t feel pretty much as good as she had expected.
I used to be very aware of what was good in my life — namely, that I wasn’t dead
Soon after, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “That is round two,” she said, smiling just barely as she pointed to the soft fabric wrapped round her head. She described the all-consuming fear and anxiety that kept her in bed the entire time, the flowers and letters that will pile up outside her apartment door, and the messages from friends that filled her voice mailbox — ones she never responded to.