6am. Eleanor grumbled to herself as she dragged herself out from under her warm covers and hurried across the icy corridor to the bathroom. It was too early and altogether too cold to be out of bed. She should have told John to make his own way home. Who needed picking up at 6.30 anyway? Ridiculous.
Splashing her face with water at the sink she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and leaned in for a closer look. Hmm. Those eye bags weren’t getting any smaller and the lines round her mouth seemed to be extending too. And the patches making their way across her sallow skin were clearly age spots now rather than freckles. Her hair contained more than a mere smattering of grey and the skin on her jaw – she pinched a bit – yes, it was definitely starting to sag. There was no denying it. She was getting old.
The side of her mouth twitched and, as she caught her own eye in the mirror, she couldn’t help it: a huge grin spread across her face. Old age! She had never expected to see it. No one had expected it. She doubted that even John, who had sat beside her in the oncologist’s office that awful day and assured her, “You’re strong, you’ll beat this!” had really dared to believe his own words. But she had defeated the odds and here she was. And there those beautiful wrinkles, grey hairs and saggy bits were too.
Walking back into the bedroom she picked up the teardrop necklace John had given her for their thirtieth anniversary and fastened it round her neck. It caught the first rays of morning light and shone. But not as brightly as her smile.
It’s been a tricky week. There has been bad news and sad news but none worse than that which a good friend of mine received about her health. I was thinking about her as I wrote this story. I fervently hope I will be complementing her on her gorgeous silvery hair in many, many years to come. The idea of growing old can be scary but the idea of never getting to grow old… well if that’s not a reason to celebrate our wrinkles I don’t know what is.