Who I am
I'm a New Yorker, soon to be a Canadian resident, retiring to the quiet life in Ottawa. I saw an interesting writing prompt today entitled, "What Have You Lost?" I thought about how wonderful this prompt is because it evoked so many thoughts. I'd like to share some of them and perhaps you can share some memories too.
I am not now ready to stop.
I lost a man who made special time for me. The rides back to Brooklyn from the country, just the two of us in his car, stopping for coffee and a crumb bun. Getting to the house and running the rusty water in the faucets until they bled clean. A man who had all the answers to all my boyhood questions, like "why are there metal grills on the bridge?' and he would make up some answer like, "to warn drivers if there's an accident up ahead -- if the car sways to the side, you better slow down," and I'd believe every word as if it were written by the hand of god, and in a way they were.
I lost someone who I referred to as "Ellen Bellen Watermelon," when we were children. It was a nickname I gave her because I loved nicknames. (My grandfather was "Baldy Bean"). She was a few years older than me and we had different friends, but when we learned that she had breast cancer, I was devastated. I visited her in Boston, near the end, after everything was tried at Duke University and the bone marrow transplant was called off, and she ended up at Women's Hospital, without hair, and terrified of what lay ahead. I lied to her about an afterlife because I believed it would take some of the fear of death away, but it didn't. That's because she knew what I know about all that wishful thinking. I visited Ellen in the morning and after a while, went to the hospital cafeteria for coffee. She died while I was gone.
I miss running. I miss the wind in my face, the taste of sky on my lips, and the disconnection of mind and body as I moved through space. And with running, I miss the fitness I had when I ran. Although I go to the gym, I know that I'll never have that level of fitness back again.
But what I miss the most are all the people I've known, places I've been, and the memories of my youth. But today and the days that follow will be what I shall miss the most as I become old and tired and ready to stop.
I have lost the dependency upon someone who loved me more than life, who fed me, touched my head or face a certain way, and took me shopping with her. She always held my hand crossing the street. She taught me everything I needed to know to start me off. She was one of the gentlest souls I ever knew.