Down a narrow corridor the image of a woman approaches far in the distance. A soft stream of light dances off the walls and casts an ethereal glow in her direction as she slowly glides towards me. I am instantly intrigued by her familiarity and mystery.
The illumination of her face enables me to observe segments of her features in the hopes of discovering who she is. Attempting a closer glance, I study her face and notice a faint smattering of freckles sprinkled across her cheeks and a wide-eyed astuteness in her demeanor. I am puzzled by her contradictory expression. She somehow blends innocence and experience together painted with a splash of wisdom as she gazes in my direction in bewilderment.
I’m temporarily surprised by her youthful aura, since my eyes tell me she has walked this earth for eternity. I see fine lines at the corner of her eyes revealing a life’s journey well traveled. Young and old co- mingle together, as if in a dance, whirling to form a pirouette swaying jointly to create an enigma.
Hers is a face that has experienced the complexities of life; the power of love, exciting adventures, births and deaths, sorrows and joys. Her eyes stare right through me, twinkling as if they hold all the mysteries of the universe deep inside.
We smile at one another and she nods knowingly in my direction. Sudden laughter erupts from her lips and it is instantly contagious. I catch myself laughing along side of her creating a synchronized sound. As I continue to examine her image carefully, my confusion becomes amplified.
I notice her strength, determination, and the plethora of memories she embodies. I can detect that she carries a reflection of childhood playfulness, teenage angst, young love, ambition, a carefree spirit, peace protests, rock concerts, limitless novels and plays, motherhood, a successful career, and being called grandma for the first time.
Glimpses of a life filled with unusual adventures and ordinary daily events pass before me as I approach the tall mirror in the hallway. And for an instant I see a flash of mini skirts, bell-bottoms, guitars and peace signs transforming into the grandmother standing before me in the mirror. I see myself.
I see me at 16, 20, 40, 60 and today. I see 70!
Suddenly, I look away for a split second to double check if the girl I used to be is still there behind my reflection. I need to know that she still exists in the likeness radiating from the hallway mirror.
I blink to make sure the essence of who I was still lingers somewhere in the glass before me and I let out a gasp.
YES!!!!! Oh, YES! I see her. She is indeed still there!
Older, softer, rounder, not quite as tall as she used to be. Hair drizzled with a few silver streaks but ever full and luxurious, Eyes, expressive and large, ready to explore the unknown, all while surrounded by laugh lines from decades of smiling. And as I recognize my reflection I sigh and then speak aloud.
“Hello old friend. I see you in there, I’m so glad you’re still here to continue this journey with me.”
And a few tears softly slide down my cheeks as I realize that years and age cannot change who I am inside. I tightly shut my eyes and envision that vibrant and vital young girl protesting for peace. I open them again and stare into my reflection. I inspect the determined woman I am today. Older, smarter, and ready to keep fighting for change.
I may walk a little slower, but I’ve become quite a bit wiser. I take nothing for granted and appreciate every moment I am given. Always trying to find a new pathway to creativity, and ready to gain more knowledge with every decade I’m allowed to endure.
I take one last look at my image in the mirror and then smile.
“So this is 70? Happy Birthday to me! 70 doesn’t seem quite as old and scary as I thought it would be.”
And then I hum a few bars from a song that I identified with in 1967 and dance my way out the door.