Today I turned forty-two.
I’m not one of those people who is Zen enough to say that age doesn’t matter.
Of course it matters. The older you get, the closer you are to death no matter if that death is at the age of ninety-five in the comfort of your own bed or sixty-eight when you’re hit by a car in the middle of the street or forty-six and have cancer.
I’m not saying that you are less happy at forty-two than at twenty-two. In fact, I’m happier, but it’s a different happy. It’s a “more informed about the brevity of life” happy.
So I do pay attention to the numbers, but strangely it’s not the big numbers that depress me. I was fine at thirty and okay at forty.
Thirty-six made me want to weep, though. I think I had some sort of idea in my head that thirty-six was old. Or at least full-fledged adulthood.
The next upsetting number was supposed to be forty-eight so I didn’t even think about turning forty-two. It was going to be a breeze.
But then I read that Elvis died when he was forty-two.
How is that possible? I remember when Elvis died. I was seven. He was old.
Granted, I’ve had a very different, and hopefully healthier, life than Elvis. And I don’t expect to die at forty-two just because he did. But it’s still shocking to think that I will soon be older than Elvis ever was.
I started googling to see who else died at age forty-two, just out of curiosity, and found this website: Dead At Your Age.
The home page says, “Congratulations! You’ve just outlived some interesting people. Tell us your date of birth, and we’ll tell you who they were.”
I highly doubt that anyone perusing “Dead At Your Age” is doing it to feel good about the people they’ve outlived.
With a few clicks, I learned that I have lived longer than blues guitarist Jeff Healey (I loved the song Angel Eyes), Henry the VIII’s fourth wife, Mata Hari and Jane Austin.
The site also informed me that in 344 days, I will have outlived Gilda Radner. Only 216 days until I’ve surpassed Robert Kennedy.
The Dead At Your Age people try to put a positive spin on it. On almost every page there is a “Congratulations! You have lived 15, 324 days!
It doesn’t help. It’s depressing to know that I’ve outlived Kurt Cobain, Sylvia Plath and Martin Luther King, Junior and well on my way to outliving Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Frida Kahlo.
But, as a friend of mine always says, having another birthday is better than the alternative.
At least the site isn’t saying, “Congratulations! You’ve outlived Heather Clow!”