Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sand Through the Our Glass

Last month when my dad called to tell me my mom was in the hospital getting blood I just froze. I thought, "This is the beginning of the end." My stomach was in a knot the whole time I was on the plane.

I was surprised and relieved when I walked into her hospital room and she swung her legs off the bed and said, "When can I leave?" I forgot how getting blood perks you right up. But I did notice she looked older and a bit tired and I couldn't deny that she wasn't moving quickly.

My parents still live in the house in which I grew up. So of course I sleep in my old bedroom. But it no longer has the fabulous orange walls and flocked wallpaper I chose on my sixteenth birthday. And now there are picture frames for my mom's paintings all over the floor and there are paintings on every square inch of wall. Seriously, there is no space on the floor to put my carry-on suitcase. It's like sleeping in the storage room of the Metropolitan Museum.

I intensely dislike all of the paintings except one, and ironically, that one is hung behind the door. The one I like is a knock-off of a Thomas Kinkade. I like it because the colors are bright, like am Impressionist painting. All the others are these dark, Dutch Master-type paintings that she did while under the tutelage of one particular instructor who made everyone paint like him. I laid there in bed and looked at those paintings and thought, "If she dies before me, what am I going to do with these things?"

So in some ways it didn't feel like my room because of the hideous paintings, but when I turned off the lights, I could smell the jasmine that was growing just outside my window and when I woke up in the morning, before I opened my eyes, I heard the same birds chirping and it felt just like my old room and I felt just like the teenager I was when I left.

Then I got up and looked in the mirror.

Now I know that as humans, we are supposed to grow old and die. I talk about this with patients all day long. So you'd think I wouldn't be so shocked to see serious crow bars (they are way past crow's feet) and a downward droop to every part of my body. Tick, tick. Time marches on. If my parents are aging, that means I'm aging too. The sand is flowing through the hour glass--it's not just theirs, it's ours.

The beginning of the end? Or the end of the beginning? Perhaps there is no beginning and no end.

I'm going to go with that for now.

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