The scariest part about time is not the day that passes, you never really feel those, whether you’re counting the hours on your couch, or was too busy to recognize it until fatigue overtakes you at night. The scariest part is that it just goes.
We can all try to imagine ourselves older, we might even succeed in replacing our parents and them to theirs, but we are never the elderly.
Is it any less frightening to imagine your present guardian to be as fragile as the seniors in their communal home? The sag of their entire face, where once it might have been one too many times sunburned, lined with the wealth of exotic heat rather than the sudden new weight of gravity, couple with the soft laxness of their underarm, their trembling hand, which they will promptly smack still if you mention it.
It is not real.
It is as if a veil has been cast, foreshadowing the final curtain call, as subconscious as it is physically hindering to their eyesight. What happens on the day they confuse your name?
“John, son, is that you?”
“No ma, it’s Daniel; your Danny.”
“Well of course…I remember you now, how’ve you been dearie?”
“Content; how are you mum?”
“I feel fine, rather great.”
“I’m getting married in a couple weeks.”
“Daniel and Leila Conner, how does that sound?”
“Just lovely, beautiful; so who’s the lucky couple John?”
And even that conclusive domestic pat they give you seems rueful, tinged with something amiss on their half, yet dismissed all the same.
“I hope you have a good day, Johnny boy.”
Leaving you to only allow them their isolated oblivion; watching the woman who gave you life smile towards the blue sky and blooming flowers, appreciating from behind the pane of a window frame.
Time is alas, the ability to finally admit, when you hold them at their death beds, lucky enough that you could be there by their side, they will look at you, maybe you as their spouse, and recall an old unrequited lover.
“I only loved you Joanie.”
“I know Grant; thank you.”
And the two spot saved side by side at the family grave will be momentarily unbalanced; the invasive stone bearing “Beloved husband of 60 years, Grant and Agnes.”
It is ten minutes, the recording of a song, the record speed of a racer, the flashing motion pictures of a movie, the eras of music and rock and sex and love, the loss of a virginity – children’s eyes, the crack of a loud smack; discipline, the built up hatred, the years gone by, the innate multiplication of bacteria, the persistence of a hero, all of our history, the world passing a day, going towards its own anniversary; Happy Birthday to 4.54 billion years.
Are you afraid?