I wish someone had told me

I wish someone had told me that time is elastic, a trickster, flowing as slow as the muddy stretches of the Chama River on a hot August day, then a raging whitewater avalanche of current tumbling at torrential speed over rocks. I wish someone had told me that all those years I was raising a family, days blurring into nights blurring into dawn and sinking down into dusk again, that all those meals scraped off plates and dishes washed would lead to this moment, when doors close on an easy youth that had so few deficiencies.

I wish someone had told me that my hearing and eyesight would dim, and that these changes would happen gradually, sneak up on me like a cat looking for a rub, like a breeze gathering outside an open window, like clouds massing for a storm. I wish someone had told me that I would feel diminished by these losses. I wish I had known to bless my younger self and all she was capable of seeing and hearing.

I wish someone had told me that regret sits lightly on the heart like a bird in the pear tree, that grief can whisper as well as wail, that sorrow can find no words to tell you what she is feeling. I wish someone had told me that the heart is meant to be broken and I no longer needed to be saved from love.

I wish someone had told me that caring for myself wasn’t selfish, that saying no has the blessings of spring rain and thunder, and that withdrawing into silence was where I would find rest.

I wish someone had told me that most of my schemes would burn up like kindling and instead, that my life would unfold like an origami in the wind, as full of bittersweet as a ripe pomegranate.  I wish I had known I would come to love the man I live with in ways so tender it is a bruise on fruit.

I wish someone had told me I would regret not having asked my grandmothers about their journeys, from Odessa, Polonya, leaving mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters aunties uncles dogs cows crops the river the town all gone up in flames all left behind to start a new life here on this soil. I wish someone had told me I would need them to tell me now how to age with grace and gratitude, how to welcome failing eyesight, the loss of hearing, how to turn these losses and regrets towards a distant shore where a radiant spirit opens her arms like a benevolent mother, where the heart grows wider and brighter as the body declines.

I wish someone had told me that prayer is the fuel I would need to keep the fire of my faith burning.

Change is upon me and it is coming swiftly, a dark horse riding through the night, and when the full moon wakes me I hear the relentless hoof beats of time and tide and the turning of the seasons sweeping me along like the leaves that fall in autumn when the wind shakes the tree. Golden aspens shimmering and falling with a grace I can only aspire to, sure that when they fall it is not the end, that there is more, much more happening beneath the ground, a life process that will slowly erode the known shape, break down the parts, separate leaf and stem, bone and muscle, prepare the flesh to be transformed into something unimaginable, something that sparkles and shimmers, glows in the dark, gives off light like a bioluminescent sea creature, transformed into particles of joy and gratitude that whistles softly in the night. Can you hear us, they call, come closer. Do not fear us do not fear anything for the time of transformation is upon us and you are in the cocoon, cozy in the warm dark, sleeping the sleep of the child who knows not what awaits her but trust us, they say. When the time comes the transformation will be complete. And then. And then you will be sustained by the radiant emptiness, where love and suffering, light and shadow, pain and joy will be as one, a comfort and a blessing for you as you make your way home.

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