I am old now.
I know I am old, because my body tells me that this is the case. The arms which lie still and wasted on a hospital blanket, once wrapped themselves around my children and pulled them towards me. My arms were once as yours are, strong and free and open. Now I need you to lift a cup to my mouth, but these are the arms which lifted a baby from a cot and linked along a sea front, in the ice cream days of a black and white photograph. And they are the same arms. I remember.
The skin on my hands is paper thin and roped with veins, but they were once as yours are now, quick and sure and definite. The hands which shake and hesitate were hands which held each day with certainty. Now I rely on the touch of strangers to comfort me, but in my mind, I will forever take the long gone hands of those I used to hold. And they are the same hands. I remember.
My heart has grown slow and tired. But once it was as yours is now and would quicken with the sound of another’s voice. This same slow, tired heart was fresh and eager and filled with tomorrow. When I said ‘til death do us part, I never really believed that it would, and yet here I am, alone and with a slow, tired heart. We counted the minutes and not the beats, my heart and I. But it is the same heart. I remember.
You talk around me and above me and, although I try to speak, my voice is small and blanketed in age. The words I speak are lost in the conversation of others, but this voice which is so easy to ignore, was once clear and strong and certain. My voice knew what it wanted to say and no one shuffled and sighed and tapped as they waited for me to find the words. My voice is no longer heard and yet it is the same voice. I remember.
My eyes are milky and struggle to see. They were once like yours, free and impatient and looking ahead. Now it is easier to watch the past play out to itself and to feed my mind on times gone by. These eyes which have looked upon a thousand things, now watch as a world passes at the foot of a bed. And yet they are the same eyes. I remember.
One day, you will find yourself here. One day, you will lie as I do now, with a slow, tired heart and you will look down on livered, worn hands which you cannot recognise. Your dignity will be lost in the hang of the curtain and a stranger’s touch and your words will lose themselves in the folds of a sheet. One day, you will watch the world with milky eyes as it passes at the foot of a bed.
And then you will remember.