Everything Changes

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops her daughter Marika Warden as a mass of changing regenerating cells.I read somewhere that the cells in our human bodies get replaced by brand new cells about every eight years. Blood cells. Stem cells. Brain cells. They keep getting worn out and dying at different rates. We become essentially new people every eight to ten years as almost every single cell in our body replaces itself with a new cell.

So my daughter, who died almost eight years ago, if she had lived would be a wholly regenerated being since the last time I saw her. I am grieving for someone I wouldn’t even know anymore, not the girl who smelled like mustard and lily-of-the-valley, whose feet I rubbed regularly even as the cells of her red-painted toes were shedding and renewing themselves right under my fingertips.

This occurred to me in the middle of the construction going on in my kitchen to replace major parts: the structural framing decayed by two decades of water damage (human bones get replaced once a decade), deteriorated insulation (human fat cells replenish themselves every eight years), and the cracked concrete countertops now being jack-hammered into smithereens (skin cells last two to three weeks before quietly sloughing off at a rate of a million cells a day).

Everything is changing. Sometimes aggressively, sometimes barely noticeably. Life is nothing like it used to be. Regeneration of cells aside, I, myself, am not who I used to be. My daughter would hardly recognize me. The mother she knew has been replaced cell by cell. And maybe I’m not happier these days, but every cell of me has a greater awareness and capacity for happiness than ever before.


What doesn’t change? Have you, yourself, changed for the better or—


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4 thoughts on “Everything Changes

  1. Lucy Bergstrom

    That is indeed a startling thought, that somehow, magically, all our cells get replaced over time. I wish those of us who are getting wrinkly could regenerate some smooth skin cells, but I guess that’s not how it works.
    I had an epiphany when I was 18. Amid congratulations at my new status as budding adult, I worried about turning into the kind of women I saw on TV, especially those in ads for lemon furniture polish, Ajax floor cleaner, etc. Dressed to the nines, they raved about how gorgeous various products made their homes look. Something told me that I would never rave about things like that, and then I thought – “But I’ll be the kind of woman my mother is! No high heels, no enthusiasm for house cleaning, just down to earth.” My mother’s example saved me, and I knew that I’d still be myself regardless of age. Marika would still be herself 8 years later or 60 years later, if she had lived, in spite of changing cells. Marika would have thought of your example and been reassured. Wherever she is now, she’s rooting for you.
    By the way, see you Feb. 18!

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      I’m so glad I have you on my side, Lucy. Thank you for mentioning Marika’s rooting for me. I love that thought. I also love that you and I have February 18th coming up when we can put our authentic old selves with our individual saving examples, and whatever wrinkly or smooth cells are active at the time – together in Ithaca again. No Ajax or Lemon Pledge – I promise, although those things can still be found in my pantry. Sigh.

  2. Nicole Mason

    I’ve thought about that 8 year statistic too. It is weird to think about… We’re all completely new people, and yet not because we are more than our bodies.

    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Hi Nicole. Welcome to my online home. Thanks for checking in and inspiring me. I think I’m going to cozy up this weekend during our predicted snowstorm with below-freezing temps, and think about how “we are more than our bodies.” I haven’t considered that enough lately. Maybe it’s all the cold and having to constantly attend to my body with lotions and creams to keep its skin from cracking, with layers of clothing to keep it comfortable, and lots of activity to keep it from seizing up in pain in the cold damp air. Body. Body. Body. Always needing attention. The rest of me is relatively quiet and so I forget that there’s more than just cells. Gotta work on this. Cheers!


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