I can’t believe I wrote this piece almost seven years ago. I had turned 40 the year before and as often happens around the occasion of ‘big’ birthdays, I’d started to think about just what getting older means. I didn’t seem to have any feelings of regret or stress that I was ageing though, I was fully embracing just where I was going, the wisdom that I felt, and the absolute excitement of what was coming next. Seven years later, I can see that I was right to feel that way.

At the moment, I’m spending time thinking and reading about menopause and I’m lost in language that is tied up with this ‘next stage’. There seems to be so much loss, regret, and looking back, and feeling scared about what people are losing and leaving behind as the next stage of life hits. But I don’t feel that way. I feel that I can look back with pride and achievement and happiness and pain and love and hurt and longing. There are things I wish I had done differently, but nothing I wish I hadn’t done. I don’t want do-overs. Looking ahead, there is just more to look forward to, possibilities that I have no idea about yet.

This year, with so much about insulin’s centenary, thinking about getting older seems more poignant. Because a short century ago, diabetes was a death sentence. Ageing was only something we could even dream about. What a privilege to wear my age in years alongside my age in diabetes!

And so today, I’m sharing these words from 14 October 2014 (with a few edits) because they still ring true for me. They still feel real. And in seven years time, I’m hoping I revisit this post again, and feel the same way.

______________________________________________

I really should be careful what I read and where I read it! The other day I sat at a gate lounge at Sydney Airport crying as I read an incredibly candid piece on the Huffington Post that inexplicably told my story so honestly and accurately that I wondered if I had written it and not remembered.

And then I read this piece by Rebecca Sparrow and again, floods of tears as I nodded at everything she wrote.

I remember one day sitting with a group of other women all around the same age and we were speaking about skin care products (and then we giggled about boys, plaited each other’s hair and painted our toe nails). I was the only one who had not been using so-called anti-ageing products for a number of years. Because that’s the thing – we’re meant to be anti-ageing and do things to turn back the clock.

I am forty years old. (EDIT: forty-seven) This is not something I feel the need to hide nor be ashamed of. I celebrated last year with a week of parties and lovely gifts. I wanted to celebrate this milestone – just as I do every milestone. Next month, I turn 41 and have every intention of celebrating that too.

Rebecca Sparrow writes that ageing and getting older is a privilege as she tells the story of a friend of hers who, at 22 years has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. This young woman is not going to be afforded the opportunity to age and get wrinkly and turn grey. She is going to die at an age where most of us feel completely immortal.

Ageing is a privilege – I understand that more and more every day. With our daughter growing up – she’s going to be 10 next month – I can easily measure time. We see how she has changed and how, with each passing month, she is becoming an incredible young girl we are so proud of. And we are so lucky to be able to watch this.

I am over the idea that ageing is something that we should hide from and do everything in our power to avoid. I am forty years old. I look older than I did when I was 17 and doing year 12, or when I was 25, or when I was 30 and pregnant, or even than I did a couple of years ago. Of course I do. And if truth be known, I really don’t want to turn back the clock – on how I look physically or how I feel emotionally. With age comes wisdom – it may be a cliché, but it is true. But even more – with age comes experiences and confidence and a sense of self that only seems to grow each year.

Ageing is a privilege. It is normal. And devastatingly, for some, they never will age.

Less than 100 years ago, being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. Think about that for a moment. If I had have been diagnosed prior to insulin being available, I would have died before I was 25 years old. I never would have travelled, worked in a job that gives me incredible joy, spent so much time with friends and family, seen Tony Bennett live, learnt what an octothorpe is, watched the West Wing, attended my 20 year school reunion – or my 10 year school reunion for that matter, danced on the turf of the MCG as The Police sang, seen the Book of Mormon, read Harry Potter, gone to (and fallen in love with) New York City, met Oliver Jeffers, used an iPhone, gotten married or had a daughter. (2021 EDIT: AND …revisited and revisited and revisited New York, watched my girl turn into the most amazing almost-adult, stood on the stage at conferences around the world, extolling the value of the lived experience, stood alongside three amazing women as we put together the fantastic programme for the 2019 IDF Congress, Living with Diabetes stream, celebrated 20 years of marriage, road tripped across the US with Aaron, visited Graceland, sat in ABBA’s Arrival helicopter, ‘built’ my own pancreas, gone back to Paris another few times, and finally been able to sit on the grass at Place des Vosges, taken my family to Friends for Life, seen the language matters movement grow from the seed we planted into a global movement, lived through (and continue to…) a pandemic…)

My life would have ended before any of these things. Just because I’d been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Which makes me understand and feel the privilege of ageing more and more. Every diaversary, every diabetes milestone is worth celebrating.

I want to look forty (EDIT: forty-seven) – I want every battle scar I’ve earned to be visible; every success – and every failure – to be shown on my face; the story of every victory and disappointment to be told. Because these are part of who I am and I am so, so lucky to be here to keep telling my story.

Lucky to keep laughing, crying, learning.
And Zooming. So fucking much Zooming.