They say that age creeps up. And mostly, it does.
Its first touch is tentative. One day you notice a white hair. You pluck it out. And for a quite a bit of time after that, you and your trusty tweezers are on the job. Ever vigilent. Ever ready. Until the day you convince yourself that dying your hair is more of a fashion choice than an attempt to disguise the fact you’re going grey. Uh, huh. A hint of colour will give your hair some pop. You buy a box of Medium Brown, and sign yourself onto a lifetime of root patrol.
See? At first it’s a series of checks and balances.
Until you hit one of the big events–you got divorced, lost your job, threw out your back, nursed a sick child–and that day-to-day maintenance gets put aside. The little forgiveable flub over your waistband turns into a belly tire. Your hands get so chapped you need gloves to put on your pantyhose. Your jawline sags, or your ass does. (Yes, Virginia, one day you too will be naked in front of a mirror clenching and unclenching your butt cheeks, thinking, ‘where it go?’)
Still, those things are mostly fixable. Once you’re back on your feet–if it’s important to you–you can do a lot to erase the evidence of that tough time. We live in a world where beauty flaws can be plucked, oiled, primped, hidden, bleached, dyed, sucked, panty-pinched, injected, resurfaced or spanxed.
Or perhaps, you will not bother. You are who you are. And you like you. Besides, you don’t spend much time looking in the mirror. Most of the time, you’re seeing the world from the inside, and from the inside, you’re the same dumbass twenty-something who thought they’d never turn into an old bat who needed bifocals.
But here’s the part of aging that breaks my heart.
Imagine, if you will, that the inside part of you–the thinking, dreaming, scheming, practical real you–got sick. Or diseased. Or so drug-addled that it feels like there is a worm in your brain eating away at you.
Your mind is the last part of the real you. You can forgive all the other stuff slipping away, but not the soul of you. Not the true heart of you. Who are you if you’re not YOU inside anymore?
I’m spending a lot of time in hospitals these last two months. I’ve seen a lot of vacant minds, and hurt bodies. I wish I had the hand of a healer. That I could hold it over my father-in-law’s broken brain, and heal him back to being Jack.
I can’t. I’m beginning to suspect no one can.
Age, why are you so cruel?