Through the hazy film of eyes once bright with possibility and wonder, my 110 year- old self holds me in a fragile, yet soft embrace.  The unexpected beauty of HER deeply lined face; HER unwavering sense of self, shake me to the core. I momentarily feel foolish that I continue to be influenced by superficial standards, at times, not even comfortable in my own skin. However, HER gaze assures me that she sees me as wonderfully perfect in my flawed, vulnerable ways.  SHE substitutes judgment and critique with curiosity and understanding.  SHE intimately knows that I will consistently try to do better and aspire to a wiser version of myself.

HER shaky, quiet voice whispers of kinder,…..gentler,….. slower…… ways to connect with the world and myself.  SHE models the art of being fully present, appreciating the moments as they unfold.  My frenetic mind registers the words but races ahead MORE, BETTER, FASTER, despite the knowledge that this does NOT serve me well.  SHE acknowledges there are lessons to be gained from the struggle.  SHE wishes it didn’t have to be so; wishes I could loosen my grip on the struggle, but SHE has discovered it is futile to fight the wind.  HER embrace loosens ever-so slightly, imperceptible to most, but I notice and wonder what it means. SHE chuckles under her breath as SHE notices me noticing this.

My 110 year-old self has discovered an unmarked path that meanders its way through bramble, mud, dust and shale.  SHE knows I will be willing to navigate its many obstacles that eventually point the way to peace of mind and fullness of heart.   SHE has witnessed beauty and unspeakable tragedy, felt love and sorrow, experienced success and failure. These are evident in HER bittersweet smile and etchings around HER eyes.  These have shaped the patchwork quilt of HER life, the quality of HER heart, the depth of HER understanding.

Well aware of the precious, fleeting nature of life, SHE engages fully with me, listening from a place of honoring; not needing to know or discover the answers; not frantically seeking truth and meaning.  WE savor our final moments together.  I breathe deeply, allow MY grip on certainty to fade, give MYSELF the luxury of settling in right here, right now.  The synchronization of OUR breathing, the warmth of a tender touch, two hearts meld and their beats harmonize in……hope, hope, hope.   ONE truth and clarity, surpassing word or emotion.