I am not encountering any aches or pains from my newly discovered diagnosis of advancing osteopenia and osteoporosis. Perhaps my bones are losing density and becoming brittle, but I feel healthy and strong, and I am making sure my diet includes the nutrients I need to make my bones stronger and healthier.
I can still walk and run, dance and twirl, swim in pools and wade in creeks, and do most anything I want to do. I feel like I am in control of my own well-being and health, and my body is carrying me where I need to go with no complaints. As one research paper I read proclaimed, it’s not the brittleness of the bones that is at the heart of this condition, but it is in the flexibility of the bones and in the strength of the muscles that support them, along with, of course, not falling. As long as bones don’t break, there is no problem. With a good team working inside my body, I feel like am doing OK on this front.
But what about my heart? Is it healthy, or is it suffering from a type of osteoporosis, a brittleness and fragility that I can’t explain or do anything about? Divorced six years now (and this was my second marriage!), and a survivor of a few romantic encounters since my marriage ended which weren’t meant to be, I am now a 70-year-old woman looking for love, true love. And, as it appears, I’ve been looking in all the wrong places these past few years. Nothing has clicked for me so far, and as I look at yet another relationship fading into the sunset, I wonder if the Good Fairy of True Love has passed me by for good, shaking her head in puzzled defeat and tucking her magic wand snugly into her belt in a display of utter failure.
Those who know and love me reassure me that there is a man out there who is looking for me, one who will cherish me, and one who will appreciate all of my good qualities. I guess just haven’t met him yet. While I love these people and appreciate their kind words, I can’t say that I believe them wholeheartedly. At my age, I’m not sure that this man exists, and if he does, why would he want to become involved in a relationship that most likely could include care-giving, possible dementia, cancer, stroke, or other life-altering disabilities down the road, either for him or for me? Who would want to take on that kind of burden? Is there such a thing as true love at this age of life that would embrace love, along with the ailments and challenges that accompany getting older? For better or for worse and in sickness and in health take on a whole new meaning as one ages and doesn’t have a lifelong partner with a long history of togetherness. And what about families who are asked to accept a new person into their fold as their aging parent’s new partner? Is it even a sane thought to imagine that love will find a way with all of these obstacles jumping out into the road we senior citizens travel? I’m not sure it is, and I wonder.
This I know. My heart is still capable of being broken, bruised, and battered. A man I dated briefly stated that if our relationship didn’t work out, he would be able to go on with his life on his own and that he would be fine. I thought, yes, I would go on with my life, as well, and would also be fine, but that’s not to say that my osteoporotic heart might be broken and need some time to heal. You see, when I give my heart to someone, I gently place it into his hands to protect, nurture, and cherish. If he returns it to me rejected and stomped upon, it’s going to take some time for me to get over it. Thank goodness that like my bones, my heart retains a bit of flexibility. It doesn’t shatter into a million pieces with no chance of healing. It may be bruised and battered, but with some time and a gentle touch, it will be healthy once again. It will carry a few more scars, of course, but will still be fully functioning.
I may be 70 years old, a senior citizen, an elderly adult, an old woman. But when it comes to my heart, it doesn’t seem to know how many years I’ve been around. It is still capable of loving, desiring, laughing, longing, yearning, rejoicing, mourning, agonizing, celebrating, supporting, and sympathizing. But with age, it does feel more fragile, bringing me to the need to protect it more, take fewer risks, and guard it more diligently.
So, what do I do? Should I keep looking for love, or shall I cradle my heart and keep her safe? Maybe she doesn’t have osteoporosis after all. Perhaps she has not become brittle with age. Could it be that she is becoming wiser, more discerning, and smarter?
Who knows? One can always hope!