I am outside talking to a neighbor. She is in her late 50's. An empty nester.
I look at her, try to focus on what she's saying, but my mind is somewhere else. I am looking through her...seeing her in a way I've never seen her before. I am seeing her 20 years ago...young and busy, lively house full of kids...wiping runny noses, picking up toys.
And I'm sad.
Strangely, I don't think she is sad. She seems happy enough...content with her life.
But I can't shake the sadness.
I walk to work, and I see an elderly couple, arms linked, walking slowly and with difficulty. I watch them. They were a young couple once...not so very long ago. Did they raise a family? Were they happy? I want to know. I need to know. I need to know if their lives just passed them by so quickly that they are wondering where the time went. I need to know if they are mourning the passage of time....their loss of youth.
For them, too. But mostly for me.
I do Taharas. Sobering work. But never sad. The women are generally old, have lived a full life, and I am preparing them for their meeting with their Maker. It's work that puts things in perspective...puts life in perspective. It reminds one of what is important, of where we are all going some day, and what we take with us. It's beautiful...and holy. But not sad.
I did one last night. I work quietly...my mind going to a place that is becoming very familiar to me. When did this woman stop being a young mother and become the frail woman I see before me? At what point was she no longer needed? When did the transformation take place? Did it happen slowly....or did she suddenly find herself there one day?
I continue my work.
But I'm sad.
How long before I find myself in that place? How much more time? How long before my roles change from mother...or wife...or whatever I am today....to...to what? I depend on these roles to identify myself...even to myself. When will they no longer apply? And...when that happens...who will I be?
Within ten years, I may have an empty nest.
I think back to ten years ago. In some ways, those years seem to have flown by. And every year seems to pass faster than the year before.
I'm almost there. And that thought makes me so sad.
I wish I could freeze time. I'm happy with where I am today. I'm happy now. I want to stay here for a little bit longer. I'm not ready to move on.
I just want more time.