Something peculiar began on the day the last digit in my age flipped from 9 to 0. Like a door opening to a vast vault, my journey changed. What had previously stretched forward like a malleable ribbon from day to day was transformed into a shortened matchstick, the inevitable burning out waiting at it's end. In truth, nothing had changed. The book of "me" read the same from cover to cover, memories good bad and transformative inhabited it's pages. Only the eye of the writer had shifted, narrowing into that myoptic lense of geriatric vision which seeks to devour every new opportunity with a cloak of mortality. An uninvited intruder had entered my mind, visiting often in the darkness of lonely nights. A would be thief armed with his trade tools of fear and doubt, ready to steal my confidence and peace of mind. Emily Dickinson named the thief that "awful rowing towards God".
I am startled by the visage that greets me in a passing mirror or window, my mind does not immediately own the face recognition technology to register the image as "me". Last weekend was alumni reunion for Sidney High School where I graduated in the Class of"65. My sweet, lifelong best friend send me messages and photos because I did not attend the 70th Birthday Celebration of my fellow classmates. That "thief" had managed to capture, as hostage, the courage that would have allowed me to drive the 6 hours through the city and mountains of upstate New York alone. There they were, arriving through cyberspace to greet me. Some felt like strangers in the flat 2D of my screen, devoid of the personal cellular recognition that activates when we meet in person, flesh to flesh, still sharing the oars in that common boat.
There were catalysts igniting my present shift. Two years ago in July my adult best friend left to reside in that ethereal place towards which I row. With a shocking suddenness my daughter-in-law's mom left in December. We had shared the daily babysitting for my grandaughter and suddenly I was the lone Grandma filling that space.. With the precision of a double edged sword, my greatest joy, sharing Lina's days, had become a haunting, ever present reminder that I had inherited my joy through another's loss.
The mantra of living in the moment has become greater than an abstract idea. I feel the teeming life around me in more vivid hues.Days cannot end withour the reflection of the multitude of miracles I've shared through the vision of a 4 year old. A day ending anywhere but on the beach watching the sunset is a wasted day .I choose to row the length of this journey awake. I did not choose to row it alone.