It’s only recently that I’ve begun to look at old people with anything other than passing interest. Now, I find myself infatuated by them, their skin, their eyes.
My father showed me a picture of his parents on their wedding day. I looked at my grandmother, young, smiling, essentially unrecogonizable, veiled in her youth. Later, sifting through more family photographs, I saw one of her the year before she died. Looking closely, I could see the same eyes, but everything else had changed.
Is it the physical change that scares me? Is it my vanity? Is it the limitations, the depreciation of a body? Or is it the fear of death, of losing eveyone I love, of watching my children from a distance live their own life. Is it the slowly fading?
A year ago, one of my close childhood friends lost her father unexpectedly. Two nights ago my dreams were fraught with visits of his now very pregnant daughter, babies and frightening images of suicide. I woke disturbed, as I always do after particularly dark dreams. In my dream, I had talked to a woman who had tried to kill herself, neck still marked with a deep red bruise where the rope had been. I held someone else’s child and though I didn’t know who she was, I knew she was alone, and that she needed me.
Years ago, I would analyze these types of dreams. Now I chalk them up to thoughts that seem to quickly pass through my busy mind during the day. They must stay though, rattling around somewhere, to be hashed out subconsciously at night. Birth and life and death, it’s all just one big circle, anyway.
It’s the moments when I’m alone, when Steve and the girls are together without me, that my heart lurches and I momentarily wonder if today is the day that I will lose them all. Will they be somehow eliminated from this world, leaving me completely alone? Surely this life is too good for anyone to hold onto, surely it’s just a tease, and I am moments away from having it all taken from me. and sometimes when I’m driving, as I tun through an intesection, my mind’s eye sees my own car being hit by an oncoming vehicle and I think So this is how it ends, is it?
These dark thoughts don’t comsume me, but through them I realize the fear that courses through my veins. The fear of being alone, of losing them, of not being here to play mother. But I swallow it down, like bile, because I can’t let it consume me.
It’s just that I have so very much to lose these days.