When I was teaching in Dubai and my children were still in elementary school, I noticed how they referred to their teachers as being old. And when I asked how old they thought a teacher was, “old like maybe thirty,” they would say. When I asked if they thought I was old, they would reply, “but you’re a mom.” So whenever my students asked me how old I was I always answered, “old enough to be your mother,” and I don’t really know why I said that or what they thought of me at the time.
It’s surprising though how one’s perspective changes with time and age. I remember when I was a little girl, my teachers were the world to me and I never thought about them as being old people. Old to me were my grandparents. When I imagined myself to be an old woman I got goosebumps. I was so frightened of old age, of hospitals, of the dead.
Toni Morrison wrote:
“What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?”
I still have strong and mixed feelings about the old but perhaps it’s not fear anymore as much as it is pity for them. I get teary-eyed when I meet old people who rely on others to take care of them. It’s a sad phenomenon for me, and I don’t know how to deal with it.
I am not in the prime of my life anymore. I have had my share of the bad, the good, the beautiful, the ugly, the sad, the happy. I feel that I have lived in a constant battle of ideas, dreams, sorrows, disappointments, promises, heartaches, pain and bliss.
I realize now that towards the end when all is said and done, the time you spent with the people you love, the meaning they brought to your life, are the only moments worth remembering. You realize how meaningful and rich your life is with them around you and you don’t want to let them go.
But destiny plays its dirty hand and fate like some wicked witch takes your life in her grip and you are left to grieve your loss. I do want to come to terms with my loss but the knowledge that my life without him will never be the same again, not in the same way ever, is what makes it so empty and bitter.
After all these years and after all I’ve been through the things I remember most are the precious moments I spent with my loved ones, and especially with him. The things we said or did, the tranquility and the bliss that enveloped me when I was with him despite the chaos around me.
Gabriel García Márquez wrote:
“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”