We are too young for this. Too young to be among this crowd.
The nurse walks into the waiting room that has been my office for the last 2 hours and leans over to the well-groomed elderly man. She asks for his left wrist in a loud voice to accommodate his age. The identification bracelet needs to be put on before heading back for his procedure. The three women accompanying him clearly signify three generations. That is beautiful. His wife has a soft, remnant hint of youth about her. I have seen it before, that softness that has rounded out the hard wrinkles of age, like the face knowingly, finally, now willingly submits to Time. “Left wrist, right where his watch used to be,” she chuckles as she shares this personal bit about him—about them—with the waiting room audience.
It makes me bite my lips because I hate to shed a tear, especially in public. Hospitals are awful. They remind me of my father, remind me of the fear, remind me that everything, absolutely everything, expires.
My lip trembles as I wonder about their story. How did they meet? How much love did they have? Was it enough? How much suffering? Is this the end? Do they know it? I count backwards from ten, just like the doctor told me to do when I got stitches in my knee at the age of 12. It’s since become my default way to escape the thoughts effects on composure.
Nick is getting a biopsy of his stomach. He’ll probably have to have a second surgery. It’ll probably all be just fine. It’s just that my fears make me dramatic and perpetuates its tangling vine around my thoughts. The familiar presence feels darker on the heels of such anniversary happiness.
Does anyone go into age willingly? Does anyone go without fear? From the sheer, trendy top on the 50-year-old in the far left corner and the unmistakably perky boob job on the much-aged woman across from me, no. The only companions of youth’s release are fright and fight.
A woman with a bald head walks into the waiting room and further sets me on edge. I bury my head in page 22 of my book. Turns out, The Picture of Dorian Gray is the absolute worst reading choice at present:
“Time is jealous of you, and wars against your lilies and your roses. Realize your youth while you have it. The world belongs to you for a season. For there is such a little time that your youth will last—such a little time. The common hill-flowers whither, but they blossom again. The laburnum will be as yellow next June as it is now. In a month there will be purple stars on the clematis, and year after year the green night of its leaves will hold its purple stars. But we never get back our youth.”