This year, I might have had a 5 year old. What would 5 look like? 5 would be kindergarten and tee-ball and outgrowing swim class. 5 might be new siblings and new schools and new adventures. 5 might go to bed easily or sleep in once in awhile. 5 would be full of next steps. 5 would have a future.
5 would have summers building memories, leading to a big party. 5 would not have clouds circling as dates and re-surfaced Facebook memories map out the timeline, counting down to the inevitable.
What wouldn't that life look like? Sometimes I'd like to think that 5 wouldn't ever be hard. 5 wouldn't be anxious or breathless or frustrated at tiny stupid things. And the rest of me knows that 5 is long enough that there would be plenty of hard. Plenty of anxious, because even in that other world, I'm still me.
What does Year 5 look like instead? Today it is watching friends' children go off to kindergarten and not always grieving the classmate they won't know. Not always remembering that they are the Ones Who Lived. It is less about one horrible date and more about a patchwork of complicated pregnancy memories, happy thoughts and a dull persistent ache.
Now, Year 5 is mentioning my third pregnancy and high risk experiences whenever I want. And saying I've got two kids with much less guilt or anxiety. Some anxiety, of course, because in this life, I'm still me. Today it is hoping I can help others with my story, but not trying too hard to force it. And going easy on myself because I haven't started a foundation or joined a fundraising walk.
Today, my life is loving ages 3.5 and 1.5. Tired and happy and busy and really fulfilled. Today it is loving my little family and all of its quirks and complications. 5 is emerging into a life led by values of love, clarity, creativity and connection. Finding those with my children and separate from all 3 of them.
Today, Year 5 is really learning about holding two complex contradictory thoughts at once. Santosha. Happiness and hollowness. That life and this one. Abundance after loss. Order in the chaos.
Maybe at Year 5 I stop counting. I don't know. I don't know what Year 6 looks like, but today I'm not as worried about that as I used to be. 6 will be shades of today. 6 might be wildly different. To me, that is my biggest source of peace at Year 5. I'll still be me, with all of these pieces swirling around. The Life that Wasn't just becomes part of the Life that Is.
Not every day is peaceful, but today, especially today, is the day when it all comes together and is just okay.