by Jay Fadden
I looked in the mirror the other day and did not recognize the person looking back at me. I was shocked! As I have gotten older, my life seems to have sped up as the years roll by. There are days when I still feel like the young man who loved to play with my friends, who went to high school and then college. As a kid, I loved to go frog hunting, and would lie in the grass staring at the stars in the sky with dreams and hopes flooding my mind. I remember the feeling of the wind blowing past me as I laughed and ran around my yard. I can still remember, as a young child, sitting and eating cereal with my dad and then waving out the window at 5am as he left for work. On Christmas, my sisters and I would line up at the top of the stairs until my parents told us we could come downstairs to see what Santa had brought us. What a mad dash that was running down those stairs. Off to college I went, where I made some of the best friends of my life, who I still hold dear today. I will never forget the phone call telling me my grandfather had passed away as I prepared for a college test. From college, I entered the work force with enthusiasm and potential. I was young, and the world was mine for the taking. I met a beautiful girl, got married, and had three precious children. Anything was possible, and I felt good. I thought I would live forever and that I could conquer the world. But I continued to get older.
Years went by, and my outlook changed. Instead of wanting to conquer the world, I wanted to heal the world in thought and deed. As I moved onto a new stage in my life, health problems took some of my physical abilities and I could not do some of the things that made me happy. I could no longer run or play basketball like I used to. Frog hunting and running around the yard are now a distant memory. Getting out of the car after a long ride or out of bed in the morning has become a bit more challenging.
In my mind, I kept telling myself that I could do all the things I could do when I was younger, but I am not the same. I am older, my bones creak, and I am a “few” pounds heavier. When I was younger, I never thought I would be where I am today. There were no thoughts of limitations brought on by aging. But here I am.
So what do I do now? So much has happened over my lifetime, and I relish those experiences, but I know that so much is still ahead of me. I look forward to watching my children continue to grow and pray that they are happy and at peace. I continue to work to expand CatholicTV so that more people can grow in their relationship with God.
But still, where did the time go? Who is this man I am looking at in the mirror? Where did my youth go? Who have I become? In my life, I have had many happy moments—moments that made me who I am, both good and bad. While I am different today, I am happy and excited about the future. There are still challenges ahead, especially losing people in your life. I have lost people I love, and I know that will continue. When someone you love dies, it changes you. A friend, confidant, spouse, brother, sister, or parent cannot be replaced. It leaves a hole that can never be filled. You are different because they are no longer part of your life. You hold onto them through memories. Those memories will make you laugh and cry, but there is still a yearning that cannot be met. But life marches on.
So who is the person looking back at me in the mirror with a puzzled look? The person I am looking at in the mirror is me. It is who I am today, at this moment, because of all my experiences, whether in loss or achievement. Today I am older, I am different, and I am at peace with my place in life, and I look forward to the future and the unknown stories it holds.