I looked in the bathroom mirror today while washing my hands, and I saw myself, a lifetime of myself.
I didn’t wear makeup today. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I don’t worry about it much. And today, makeup free, I saw myself under a light that allowed me to see details that I don’t normally pay attention to. And it was like I’d come back from being gone a long time. I think that’s happened once or twice in recent years, but not like it did at that moment.
There is a school picture of me, taken when I was 5 or 6 years old, that sits on one of many shelves at my parents house along with a lot of other pictures of a lot of other people at all stages of life. I remember getting that picture taken. I remember waiting my turn on the grass on the lawn behind the school where the picture was taken. You can see the blue sky with a couple clouds in the background, and my collar is turned up by the wind. Today in the mirror I saw those same little freckles. I saw a lifetime in them. I saw myself, and despite the realization of age, I liked who I saw.
The thought didn’t cross my mind again until tonight when my mom told me that my dad is starting to lose his memory.
Everyone else’s dad gets old. Not mine. Mine will live forever.
The discussion with my mom was over text, which made it easier to ignore the reality of my father’s decline. And after the conversation, I thought about how I’ve neglected to visit my parents, how I ignore the idea of their old age, and how I cling to the ignorance of them not being alive after another 20 years. My dad sooner probably. He’s 86—ten years older than my mom. And she’s still young, doing all the things that young old people do. Her vitality makes their mortalities easier to ignore. Or had, until tonight.
That little girl loved her daddy so so so much. He was everything, and in the back of my mind, I guess he still mostly is.
I immediately wanted to talk to him, but he was asleep. And I wanted to drive to him. But my daughter has surgery in the morning.
I knew at some point I would enter this life stage when everyone starts to get old and fragile and dead. I’m not ready for it. No one ever is, I’m sure. But really, I’m not ready for this. I’m not sure I can face it. I don’t know how anyone does. Grandparents die. Not parents.
I have to be at a surgical facility in 7 hours. The youngest of my line of living generations is getting a new knee. I should go to sleep so that I can be awake for it.