For so many years, I gave little thought to growing old. I was growing older – but I was fine with that. Nowadays, when I wake up early in the morning, sleepless yet again, I look in the mirror and see an old woman.
It’s not just my physical appearance. It’s the exhaustion from fighting the battle to stay alive. Fighting fear. Finding ways to make life meaningful when there so often seems to be no meaning. Fending off the extraordinary loneliness that being an isolated solo ager in the time of COVID has awakened.
Time! It is endless. Days, hours, minutes have no consequence. There is so much time!
I diligently make a list of all the things I want to do. All the things I never had the time to do but always wanted to do. It is exciting! I post the list on my bedroom wall, prominently displayed next to my calendar. I remember when the calendar was full – almost every day with at least one event to look forward to. Now, it is largely empty. An occasional online class or Zoom meetup. But mostly reminders of when to pay the bills and telemed visits occupy the spaces.
“What is the point of growing old” I find myself asking the reflection in the mirror? I know that every day should be a gift. How many do I have left? The plans I had, the dreams still alive, the things yet to accomplish. I am 75. There is so little time!
Ah! The awful irony. Covid19 has done what was thought to be only in the realm of science fiction. It has altered the Universe and now – I have so much time!
I am overwhelmed. Frozen. I watch helplessly, listlessly, as the list mocks my inaction, my lack of attention, my drive, my very spirit. Days go by. But time stands still. It is quicksand, sucking me into a bottomless pit.
I am an old woman. I have no sense of time.
I am a ghost.
Carole Leskin is a retired Director of Global Human Resources. Embarking on a second career as a writer and photographer concentrating on her personal accounts of aging, her essays and poetry, frequently accompanied by her photos, are published in Jewish Sacred Aging, Jewish Women of Words, Starts At 60, Navigating Aging ( a Kaiser Health publication), Women’s Older Wisdom, Time Goes By and Next Avenue. Her poems, “Father Time” and “Carole’s Debate” were selected for inclusion in the 2019 anthologies of poetry, New Jersey Bards. Her photos have been featured in Mart R Porter Nature Forum.