Beauty is a strange thing. It is a cultural obsession, yet what do you miss when someone is gone? Their beauty? Not at all.
As I get older, entering this strange world of perimenopause, riding the bizarre waves of freezing and too hot, watching the wrinkles instantly form on my face, seems like literally while I’m looking, I’ve been thinking about aging a lot more.
This morning, my dear Rachel came to visit me in my dream. We had to acknowledge to each other that she’s gone. I had to hand her a postcard with photos of everyone focused and clear but with her a sparkly pastel barely there stamp fading from view. She took the post card, looked at it, our eyes connecting as she stood next to me holding the postcard, me seated on the floor next to her, she took my hand and I rested my head against her hip. She squeezed my hand and stayed with me. Our eyes locked, looking at each other with all the knowing.
When I woke sobbing, scaring my poor sleeping husband, what did I feel? What stayed with me? What was it that wracked my body with sobs and loss? The feeling of her embrace, her friendship, her hand in mine, her support, her love. Do I miss her beauty?
Rachel had been going through menopause for years...probably longer than she should have as we now know there was a tumor in her brain. We talked about it often because the hot flashes were intense and hard to deal with. We laughed about it and talked about hoping that we wouldn’t go crazy after menopause.
Did I notice her wrinkles forming? When I look back at photos of her, I can see the difference as she aged...she wasn’t as smooth, plump, the glow of youth dimming...but did it make any difference to me? Did I see her any differently? Do I miss anything about her looks? Never. No. Not at all.
What I miss is the person. Who she was inside. Her embrace, her support, her sense of humor, and the feeling that I could just be with her, comfortable, belonging, family. That is what I miss. Just being with the person who was.
Now that she’s gone, it makes me also think about what I will leave my children someday. I’m old enough to know that we never know how soon that day may come. What will they remember about me and hold close? It certainly won’t be my youth or lack of wrinkles. Who cares about that? No one longs for the beauty of their loved one when they are gone and it’s better to get old than to not, right? We long for the person, their thoughts, support, and touch.
I know that I hug my children so much and so often that those hugs will endure the way Rachel’s do for me. Many times her hugs have come to me when I’m upset, both awake and asleep. I know those hugs so well that I can summon them up and feel her squeezing.
Knowing the pain of loss makes me also want to leave them my words. They may not have the luxury of a Facebook account where all my messages and comments speak to them like hers do to me, short comments of humor and support on all my past posts reminding me that she was here and our friendship was real. But I can write on my blog, leaving them my thoughts...maybe they will need them someday for comfort. So here I am, leaving them this. No wrinkles on the digital page, ageless, forever. Although they will probably say, TMWDNR.