At the start of 2004, I was actually quite positive about becoming forty. I'd (relatively) recently started a new job and, despite numerous aches and pains, was looking forward to my final season in club cricket.
And then my world was turned upside down...
Now is not the time and definitely not the place to go into detail; suffice to say that I began to question the reality of almost every aspect of my life.
Ten years later, so much has changed. I met Elaine, moved to be with her in 2006, and we married in 2008. Starting again in our forties was so difficult, but despite my introspective nature, I don't look back at how things were before Elaine and I got together. Why would I? I now have a life filled with love, laughter, trust and contentment. Yes, a few extra pounds (money not weight) wouldn't go amiss, but we're healthy, we're happy, and I feel incredibly blessed.
That said I can feel the anxiety growing as my fiftieth birthday draws ever closer. I don't want to be fifty.
When I was much younger, I would have expected fifty to be the age of financial stability, and a leisurely stroll towards retirement, but sadly as job disestablishment is now just over six months away, that is hardly the case.
When I joined the NHS, I gave up a steady job because I wanted a career that was both meaningful and hopefully secure. Notwithstanding I was wrong about the latter (although I remain proud to work within the health service), I am well aware that I need to overcome my worries and channel my efforts into finding a job where I can make the best use of the skills I have, make a positive difference to my employer - and give Elaine the best life that I possibly can.
The fact remains that I share every day with the most special person I have ever met, and whatever the future holds, I know I don't have to face it alone. I couldn't say either of those things at forty... nor do I take them for granted. Fifty will come... fifty will go; there's nothing I can do about it. What I can do is gather my strength for what lies ahead, and do everything I can for those who mean the most to me.
Then, and only then, will I start saving for my Saga cruise...