It’s been a very long time since I was inspired to write a post in this space and I’m not going to question why my muse suddenly made an appearance.
… but she did, and I’m going to run with it.
It happened yesterday morning in the car.
Gilles and I are on an 800 km (500 mile) road trip to Quebec City to see his mom – a visit that has been long overdue.
It was my turn to drive, and while Gilles napped in the passenger seat beside me, I found myself suddenly in conversation with 16-year-old me.
She eyed me curiously, obviously a bit disappointed in what she saw – the pudgy body, thin graying hair, wrinkles, and veiny hands. While every teenager expects to grow older, none ever expect to actually BE old.
Her expression told me I could have done better.
Obviously she was interested in knowing what was ahead of her, so I filled her in on the highlights – school, career, I pointed to the sleeping husband of 37 years, and told her about our adult sons.
Of those things she nodded with approval.
I suppose I should have been glad I wasn’t viewed as a complete loser.
She shyly asked if I was happy and I gave her a slow smile.
Ups and downs are inevitable in life. There is no Prince Charming or happily-ever-after, nor does any Cinderella ever wake up without bed-hair and bad breath.
I’ve learned that happiness is like trying to capture smoke. The harder you try, the faster it seems to dissipate around you.
And yet in the quiet moments when you least expect it, a warm feeling of contentment wraps gently around you like a blanket on a cold winter’s night.
Yes, I answered. Our life has been very good and I’m happy.
I told her that mom and dad are now both gone. Dad passed away over 20 years ago, and mom followed a dozen years later. I still miss them both and asked her to hug them for me – frequently.
… and please be more of a help to mom at every chance. It’s not easy being the matriarch of the family. By the time you figure that out, it will already be too late and it will fill you with shame that you didn’t do more in her younger years.
Of course that drifted to the topic of regrets.
I could say with confidence that I didn’t regret any of the big decisions I made in life … but I couldn’t say the same about many of the small things I said or did over the years, done in haste, without thought to how I might hurt someone else in the process.
People I thought were important turned out not to be, while others deserved better from me. I continue to be a work in progress.
She had looked at me questioningly when we passed a large road sign advising those returning to Canada of mandatory self-isolation for 14 days.
There were still so many things for us to talk about – miracles, like the internet, and not-so-great things, like pandemics.
But there was no time left to explain. Gilles was waking up from his long snooze and eager to stop soon.
We reluctantly said quick farewells, bidding each other to stay well.
In truth, our life literally depends on it.