I found a white hair on my head yesterday. Now, that’s not news – they’ve been showing up for a while now. The news is that this one had managed to make it to the length of the rest of my hair. Normally, I pluck them as soon as they spring from my scalp, wiry and slightly bent and refusing to blend in with the rest of my hair.
I’m only 35, and so far I haven’t had to deal with any of the worse symptoms of aging – except the normal stretching and falling of body parts that comes with four pregnancies. However, I have friends who are older than me, some of them much older, and watching as they suffer some of the more difficult aspects of aging is heartbreaking.
I lost a dear friend to abdominal cancer three years ago. (I posted about Beve here, here, and here.) She was about the same age my parents are now.
My mom and dad will both turn 60 this summer. Sixty is not old, right? But when my grandfather died at 64, when I was in college, I don’t remember ever thinking that he was so young to die. Now, with my parents entering that decade, I realize how premature his death was.
Today, I learned that a friend from our former church was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Joyce is in her early seventies, though you would never know it. She is vibrant, active, sharp as a tack. In 2002, Joyce and her husband Bill took a trip across the US in an RV. They visited historical sites, watched a space shuttle launch, and Bill went birding to his heart’s content. In 2004, not content with staying home and enjoying their retirement, Joyce and Bill headed to China to teach English. Joyce ended up playing piano at a house church and leading a Bible study in their apartment. I wish you could all meet her, hear her teach Bible study, know how smart and charming she is, so that you could understand how devastating the thought of her losing her memory, her identity is.
Joyce and Bill’s daughter, Jan, is also a dear friend. She’s not much older than I am. When I think of what the years ahead will be like for her, I can’t stop crying.
Joyce loves Jesus. Jan loves Jesus. There is comfort in that, but this situation seems horribly wrong. Our bodies are fallen, our world is fallen, and aging and disease is a result. I can be logical about all of that until it hits someone I love, like today. Then it feels unjust and ugly.
Please pray for Joyce and Bill, Jan and their other three children, and their many, many grands and great-grands.