Waking up was a slow climb from the darkness of deep sleep into wakefulness and the light of day. Sounds of the early morning wrestled their way into consciousness as they chased the remains of nocturnal dreams. The chorus of tweeting birds punctuated by a passing car or the occasional clatter from a nearby busy yard came more and more into focus while fragments of her last dream still hung at the edges of consciousness like spiderwebs. Not quite gone but also no longer in charge.
Fragments of the dream flickered up, being lost and not finding the way home. Despair, while helpful, kind people gave directions that lead deeper into obscure landscapes looking like a Dalian painting. Time dripping slowly creating a suffocating heaviness on her chest.
As the cobwebs of the night vanished the heaviness on her chest became his hand, clasping her breast, claiming proprietary rights, staking out his territory. It’s a strong, familiar hand, although it’s not the youthful hand that took from life what its owner wanted and steered their lives forcefully here and there, to unknown places, around or above obstacles. No, these hands have lost much of their strength. Where youth had once guaranteed a secure grip now arthritis started to gnaw at the joints.
His breath was regular and calm, a sign that his night for once had not been tainted by aches and pains. She looked at him with fondness. She knew him from years of travelling together. But then, there was much she didn’t understand. When he withdrew into himself, being almost unrecognisable. But will we ever fully know another person? Will we ever understand the other up to the deep recesses of their mind? And more importantly, should we even?
Maybe the journey of ageing gracefully is about staying open and keep learning about each other as we each in our very own, very personal way come to terms with the finite nature of life, with dreams unfulfilled, bodies that show us daily our ever increasing limitations, aches that don’t budge even with the strongest medicine, and minds that fail to remember answers to the question “Do you remember when we did ….”
Years ago his hands on her breast was the overture to delicious love making and unbridled passion. Touching, seeking, teasing, tasting, and joining of limbs, skin on warm, soft skin, panting and gasping while climbing together heights of mutual fulfilment.
Today’s touch was more a holding on to driftwood in the stormy sea of life. A knowing of existential loneliness, yet thankful for being not quite alone. He opened his eyes slowly and, for a moment, sank into the depth of her blue eyes. A smile of awareness, recognition, settled on his face and he pulled her into his arms.