When I turned 50, I was full of piss and vinegar. I felt on top of the world. I was like a boss. I ran half marathons. I was at my peak. I was going to show the world what 50 looked and felt like, and it was awesome!
Every time I did my makeup in the mirror, I thought I looked stunning. Yes, I really did. No false modesty here. For someone who grew up with an eating disorder and terrible self-esteem, I finally loved myself. 50 was the best thing EVER!
Well, not even two years later, I find myself in the throes of menopause. Talk about raining on my parade. It's more like a tropical storm. Menopause is proof that there is a hell on earth—hot flashes, mood swings, exhaustion. My midlife party is so over.
And that stunning image I saw in the mirror? Well, something very odd is going on, and I´m wondering whether it's normal. One minute I will catch a glimpse of myself, my long mane of hair, my toned arms and think, "You still got it, girl" and feel all happy and smug. But ten minutes later, I'll take a peek again and, instead of the ravishing mental image I have of myself, I see—check this out—my grandfather's face in his casket.
It's creepy and defeating all at once. I look exactly the way he looked when I last saw him 12 years ago. I see his deathly pallor, his long nose, his pursed mouth. And it's all on my own face.
What the hell is happening to me? Am I the only one who in midlife goes back and forth with visions of what once was and what will one day be?
No matter how long I exercise, how healthy I eat, and how many hours I sleep, I'm still aging—and aging fast. As much as I want to love the process of getting older—and doing it gracefully—I sometimes wish I could stop time. I don't want to be younger, nor older—just right, right now. Perfectly matured like a ripe avocado.
Just when I was starting to love myself, I can see the subtle and not so subtle changes happening fast. Gravity is my enemy. I can see where it's tugging and pulling at my neck and jowls. It's taking down my breasts. But what creeps me out more than anything is that I can clearly see how I'll look when it's my time to go into the casket. I'm not saying that I'm freaking out because I see myself as a dead person. I'm freaking out because I see myself as an old dead person in a casket.
Call me vain, call me anything you want, but I don't want to look like my grandfather when he died. He was Spanish, and in Spain they don't pay a whole lot of attention to making dead people look good once the lightbulb goes out. He looked gray, like a wax figure, slightly bloated, and, unsurprisingly, not too happy to be there.
Which got me thinking, I should really write this down in my will: I want my loved ones to remember me with rosy cheeks, flushed lips and my usual effervescent smile. Or at least have me lie in state in such a way where I won't be scary to look at.
I'll do what it takes: hire a makeup artist, a hair stylist and someone to dress me. Like I'm going to the Academy Awards of Death. I want to look the way Snow White looked when she was in that deep, long sleep. This way when my daughters remember me many years later when they're my age and start to have glimpses of their own future selves about to be planted six feet under, they can at least feel good about the vision.
Of course, there are other options, which is to have a closed casket wake or to be cremated. Or a third, which would be to get plastic surgery—maybe a nice facelift right after I die. Then I can be mummified and look young forever. For the kids, of course!