I have one rule I have always kept in my life. Do not do anything that would make me not want to look at myself in the mirror. Faced with choices, I would always think “when I am washing the make-up off, will I be able to look at myself in the mirror?”. If the answer was yes, I did whatever questionable thing it was. If the answer was no, which it very rarely was, I refrained from doing what most probably would have been a regret. This seemed like a good way to live a life. Really live it, with not having any “what ifs” in my life as I get older.
When I was a teen I became friends with a woman in her 60’s. She had a hard life, but she was one of the most upbeat people I have ever met. She told me how she had lived her life. She said if she got the chance to do something, she almost always did it. She knew when she was young she did not want to look back at her life and wonder what if. She said she applied this to almost everything in her life. She said had she not taken the chances she had, she may never had lived such an exciting life. And she did live an exciting life, before I had met her. By the time I had met her and gotten to know her, she had gone through much. Her husband had died young. Her daughter had become a heroin addict. Her nephew committed suicide. But to her, all these thing were just part of life. To me what seemed like a hard life, was just life to her, throwing curve-balls along the way and the way she handled each was what shaped her. She had such amazing, mesmerizing stories to tell. Most if not all were humorous. I enjoyed my friendship with her, even if it were short-lived. But she taught me such an invaluable lesson that has stayed with me through the years.
I have lived a full life till now. I am much younger than she was, but you do not have to be old to feel old. Much like people who feel young when in fact they are old. One of the reasons my life is so full is that I took her advice, if I got the chance to do something to do it. I lived my life that way. I have gone places I might never have gone to. I have met people I may never have met. I have done things I never would have thought possible. I have repelled down mountains. I have swam in the ocean early in the morning as the sun was rising. I have experienced the highest of highs, but do not think I have experienced the lowest of lows, just a little low. I am not done living my life, I still have a full life in front of me, it just does not feel like that at the moment. It is as if someone has hit the pause button on my life.
The thing that makes me wonder is why I cannot look into the mirror now. I have not really looked in the mirror for some time. Probably even before my husband became sick. I reflect in my mind on things I have done to see if something would reflect back at me from the mirror that I regretted having done. I do not see anything in these reflections I regret. Every thing I have done or not done has shaped me to whom I am. I am happy with who I am, I think. Is it out of habit I no longer look in mirrors? Is it because I do not have the need to stare into mirrors as I see others do? Or is it something more painful. Is there something I cannot remember that would stop me? I know I am afraid to look in the mirror for fear of what I will see looking back at me, myself. But what will myself look like? It has been so long since I have really looked into a mirror I do not know what I would see. Maybe it would be a pleasant surprise. Probably not though. Most likely my eyes will tell a tale of a long several years. Years of fighting to keep my husband alive, years of caring for him and ultimately the pain of losing and missing my husband. And two other things, loneliness and emptiness that no one can fill. One day these feeling will ease and I will no longer be lonely in a room full of people. I will no longer feel the need to cover how I am feeling with makeup to make me look normal. Though I will forever miss my husband, I will be able to move forward and start to live my life again. A life with no regrets. A life my husband would be proud of. A life I will be happy with.
But first, I must become stronger. I must deal with the sorrow. Learn to put feelings and emotions in their proper place in my mind. When I am able to achieve this, I will look into the mirror. Not glance, but look. As mentioned I do not hope or dream. Being a strong woman, I need the person who looks back at me to be happy. When I see myself happy, I will have learned to live again.