At 33, she was no longer appalled by herself. She had taken self-inventory, considered her broken parts, set about mending them. For her opinions and decisions, she was beyond apology. She knew leanness, empty pantries, the anesthesizing tartness of liquor. She knew when to laugh. She did not quite recall the electric pulse of new lips against hers. She still had very little idea how to comport herself in the company of men; they were still hunting her gaze and trying to hold it, still asking with concern if she was all right. She still worried that her large, imploring eyes were an undertow: if she looked at men full on, she would drown them.
She was losing her taste for grease-soaked potatoes. Only certain pizza seemed palatable now. She understood the purpose of bicarbonate and Tums. Cold weather was beginning to set her joints ablaze. On occasion, the prospect of death, which she had never feared, began to unsettle her now. Breath caught in her throat whenever she imagined her daughter muddling through menstruation, sifting through racks of prom gowns, tackling FAFSA and early admissions applications, or readying her wedding without her. Death was no longer an abstraction; it had measurable consequence.
At 33, she began to pray a bit more for a longer life. She began to pray a bit more in general. She knew that most people who were raised in an insular faith, then ambled into a larger, less devout world, redoubled their belief as new parents. But hers was an inching back, rather than running. She wanted to be careful, discerning conjecture from catechism. She wanted a faith that felt self-possessed; she did not want her place in eternity determined by anyone else’s fears or cliches or convictions. She did not want to waffle.
If this was the year when her life would most fully parallel her Savior’s, she would spend it empathizing. How would she feel if she knew her fate was sealed, was clearly marked, was imminent? How well would she sleep, if she were apportioned — every day of this year– a greater measure of mankind’s fickleness and suffering? What would it mean to know that thousands of years after she shed this sinew and bone and skin, the streets she had once tread would be filled with the discarded bodies of others, that the sky which God had opened to receive her spirit, would be filled with the endless din of missiles and drones? How would she reconcile the selflessness being asked of her with the selfishness that would consume every corner of the earth later? Would she feel the injustice of it all, the colossal affront? Would she understand how very young she still was?
Since she was not Him, not without sin or fill with preternatural wisdom and unable to prostrate herself in humanity’s stead, what would she be able to do about it?
This is the mystery she’d spend the year solving, the question she’d spend her life answering.