In the sunset of life it isn’t fun to suddenly realize, that you never had the life you wanted. That things never went the way you thought they should, and even if you generally think that your life has been mostly fine — the day will come when you realize, the “somedays” you dreamed about aren’t coming.
It can happen when you are watching an old show on TV, that show you watched in your formative years, the one that made you laugh, the one you all talked about the next day, the one that seemed to describe your forward path — but it never did. And that is because life is not a sitcom. There is no team of writers plotting all the twists and turns. No one to type up the happy ending.
They say that you are responsible for writing your own story. But no one tells you that you may carry one story in your head, while you live out another. And even if that life is full of love and laughter, the day will come where a snippet of music, a mention of a movie or the title of a book will open up a dark hole under your feet. And if you aren’t careful, you will fall into this hole, tumbling over and over like Alice, watching all the souvenirs of your life cascading around you, and as hard as you try to catch them, you can’t.
Tokens of you childhood streak by like shooting stars, the puffs of smoke that were your dreams, from the days when all seemed possible. And as you plummet you are joined by fleeting ghostly shadows of lovers and friends who swirled in and out of your life. They whisper as they pass by, but you cannot catch what they say, you’ve forgotten the sound of their voices. From deep inside you, memories flicker, what were those plans we had? The promises made to each other, the song you promised to sing at her funeral, but by then you had lost touch.
Soon you are wrapped in swirling clouds of motherhood — diapers and first teeth and the leftover equipment of their childhood activities, photos and toys and high school rings: the music of a thousand performances. Then comes the rising of a deepening ache as one by one they leave home, and the feeling of loss, of “never again” threatens to drown you. There are points of light that fill you full of warmth, and again your head fills up with dreams, this time you will get things right. The circle will re-form itself with everyone reachable, touchable, lovable and the next generation running in and out, calling for you.
However, the hole continues to widen and as hard as your try to hold their hands, to encircle them with your arms, they drift away, smiling as they go, their own dreams covering them like fog.
And you wake up one day to realize, you are living in a house that no one will visit, in a place where no one will return, and the vision of your sunset years reveals itself to be just more smoke.
You wonder what was the turning point, where was that bend in the road that took you in the wrong direction. No amount of turning around will get you back to that place, you have no choice but to continue falling, holding on to the new life where there is still love and laughter, no longer trying to catch the things that are falling away, trying as best as you can to quiet the heartache, accepting that you have reached to part of the journey where losses mount.
With an understanding nod (after so many years denying it) to Judith Viorst’s “Necessary Losses.”
Originally published at http://www.smilesideoflife.com.