I woke up this morning so stiff I could barely walk. I remember reading in a book that old people walk that way because...they hurt...and I now know what that means. When we are young, we use our bodies with such abandoned ignorance. We lift things we should not, we dance until dawn, we dig ditches and we carry a baby on each hip. We fall, we get up, we say, "Wow, that's gonna be a big bruise," and twenty years later we don't know why we hurt in that joint.
It's the stuff for jokes, the way old people walk and move and dance and bitterly complain and make that noise when they get out of a chair. But let me tell you something, Darlin's, it's not a joke. The human body does have an expiration date and as the years go on, the product loses its shine, its glide, its nimbleness, I don't care what vitamins you take, what exercise you do, how well you eat, how many carrots you juice and drink.
Okay, I haven't tried that one yet.
I've said many times before that I have looked at the way the skin lay on older people's bones, the way they shuffle across a room, the way they "let themselves go," and I have thought, "Thank God, that will not be me."
And of course, I have learned that short of premature death, that WILL be me.
And in taking care of Owen I realize how many of my aches and nerve problems (real actual nerves, not like you're-getting-on-my-last-nerve) come from holding and carrying and tending babies. Each way I curve my hand around his small butt, each way I cup his head, each way I jut out this hip or that, is part of the map of my very own muscular-skeletal architecture at this point. Now don't get me wrong- I can still do this. I am strong (for a fifty-five year old woman), and I can still hold and cup and support and jut as well as anyone. But I can feel the way these actions, having been done thousands and thousands of times from the age of twelve when my younger brother was born, have had their way with me. I think I have carpal EVERYTHING syndrome.
But it's okay. It is more than okay. They sell Ibuprofen by the gallon, the vat, the bushel. The stiffness loosens up as the day goes on and by the time I am rocking Owen to sleep later today, I won't even be thinking about it. What I will be thinking about is how my heart is as open and clear and actually, far more so! than it ever was. And that as unthinkable as it was to me as a new mother to imagine having a grandchild one day, it is now my reality and thus, my heart is that much bigger, that much more in wonder at this miracle of it all.
And that's what I wanted to say this morning. I don't have a good picture to go with these words. What picture would there be? A swollen knee? A face full of wrinkles? Well, yes, but so what? I'd rather it go without a picture because those of us who ARE this age know what I'm talking about and for those of you who are still young and who can get out of bed in the morning without feeling every movement you made the day before, it is not part of your reality.
But I would just say to remember once in a while not to take that for granted, that ease of movement, the way your body still feels like it could fly sometimes.
And also, not to laugh when you see old people dance. Okay? Could you do that for me?
Owen's here. I'm feeling fine. My heart is huge. It will allow me to dance through this day with him, albeit a bit stiffly, perhaps. I am so grateful for that.
And for Ibuprofen.