Dear Dianna: I know that you liked an idea that you saw a friend do recently where he made it a yearly tradition to write a letter to himself on his birthday. What a neat way of "coming to terms" with that ever changing number in your age (you know, the number that keeps going up!)! You even have an assignment where you ask students to write to their younger selves so perhaps -- at the risk of sounding schizophrenic -- writing to oneself once a year might be a great way of just recognizing where you are at this moment in time. 44 is, indeed, a scary number but, on the other hand, it's nice and even (and easily dividable!).
In just a few months you should be done writing the hardest thing that you have ever attempted before in your life -- your dissertation. It probably won't be the best thing ever (which is what I know is what you want) but it will be "done" (and this apparently is the most important part of a dissertation!). I know that it's still hard to resist the urge to call Les but as many friends have pointed out recently, you just have to have faith that he hears and is there (in whatever form). Luckily, there are so many fantastic people around you who will take you with all your faults (OK, there might be a few who would like you to be less grouchy!). All of us are going to lose someone important to us in our lives and we have to find ways of coping with that. The timing was pretty crappy with this one but perhaps the universe is just trying to say that you are a strong person.
The last six months haven't been easy -- you are pretty much annoyed about so many things: your writing, your teaching, your body, etc. You have also managed to piss a few people off but it's important to remember that you can control only how you feel -- not others. So focus on the here and now and take each day as it is (and perhaps lay off on the self help books -- your writing is starting to imitate that junk!). Keep doing the yoga -- the practice of meditating for 90 minutes in 100 degrees is good for you!
But there are so many things to be thankful for -- most importantly, your health is great even if you physically aren't where you want to be be (who knew that this would create such turmoil?). You have a fantastic husband who loves you "just the way you are" (sigh, that movie line still makes me swoon!) and you have friends and family who see something good in you (at least sometimes)!
So finish that dissertation. Get your life back. Be patient with students. And continue learning from all your daily interactions!.
See you at 45!