It scares me when I find myself forgetting things so young. I wonder how bad it will get before it is over. I like to think it is temporary. My hold on language that I felt very sure of at 18 and even at 38 feels more tentative now, like I am clinging to a rock cliff. That is why I can’t let go of it, and I constantly look for new expressions and inspiration. Then I find a page with words on it in my handwriting. I don’t remember it. I won’t complain, because I am not blind, and this is not cancer, and I have friends dealing with both of those, much more gracefully than I would. But it frightens me, and so I wanted to tell you.
I appreciate friends who may not understand, but extend kindness when I forget things or ask them to repeat something they have told me twice. At times I see something I have handled as if I am seeing it for the first time. Recently noticing others who are transparent and honest, I felt pulled to say this aloud, when I prefer to hide it. I am sure I am not alone in it.
seeing a sunset
each time you kiss my hand
this fairy tale
My body is revolting. It is telling me things about the life I have lived and the myriad of ways I have abused it. I am 54. I could easily live 30 more years or more based on my health as I saw it 30 years ago. But now, I get warning signs. I lose friends. Friends younger than I are dying suddenly. I am surrounded by cancer.
Why have I written all these very not-cheerful words? Because we all have a time when we face ourselves. For some it is at 40. For others, 70. For me it was 50, but I ignored it until this past year. I became overly sentimental and mawkish about the smallest details. Everything meant something. A cough, a twinge, a sudden chill.
falling asleep delirious from sickness
suddenly upon me on a cool foggy morning
I dreamt there was a bee around me
frantically trying to catch it as one
might cup a firefly in the palms
then realizing I could get stung I told myself
open your hands open your hands it will sting you
but they didn’t move for anxious moments
feeling the wings flutter the fat yellow black body
against my skin finally the sides of my hands
unglued I pulled them apart
and the bee hovered then flew
It was supposed to be a one-night stand. A dalliance, that by some is viewed as harmless. Harmless to any long-lasting problems, harmless to the marriage in general. An adventure. A door that opens and closes, almost upon itself. Then again, some doors should not be opened because they cannot be closed again. This was 1987. The AIDS crisis gave us plenty to be concerned about. But I am getting ahead of myself in the story.