I went to see my friend Caz the other night. We sat by her wood burner in her snug cosy cabin and I watched her drink the bottle of Cava I’d bought while I sipped a peppermint and licorice tea. I admire Caz so so much. She works her socks off, lives on a pittance, has brought up her children single-handedly and yet I don’t think I have ever heard her moan. Not once. She lives life to the absolute max, sucks every last bit of juice out of it, rises to every challenge and says ‘Gimme more, more, more.’
She gets cross with me. Tells me off. Puts me straight. ‘How can you bear it,’ she said. ‘How can you not be out there, grabbing life by the throat and LIVING it? How can you stand to live this…half life?’
I know what she means. There really are no excuses. Except. One is constrained by…money? Not really. Caz has no spare dosh yet that doesn’t stop her. No. So, if not money, what? Duty? Love? Fear? Habit?
I dunno. But sometimes I become overwhelmed by the speed at which time passes. I feel scared that I won’t get to see all the places and people I’d love to see…that I won’t get to do all the things I yearn to do. Mainly I forget my age and then, suddenly, abruptly I remember. And I recall my mother, at 80,saying sadly, ‘But I don’t feel 80. I feel like a sixteen-year old. This body isn’t me.’
I made the mistake of looking at the camera app on my Chromebook last night, as I sat by the fire. I truly didn’t recognize the woman who gazed back at me. Who the hell is this raddled crone, I wondered? And, if you’re not careful, you start to slide. Little things become omens of ill-will. Your mind picks them up, worries them like a dog with a bone, and makes them monsters.
My ring broke. The little silver snake ring I wear as a talisman. The only one I wear all the time. Suddenly the metal just…gave in. Split. So now my hands are bare.
And then, late last night, I sat in my study, at my desk, staring at my screen. My scream. And I could see the fire, three rooms away. The rooms in between were dark and there was just this little flame remaining of the fire that had earlier roared so brave, so warm. It flickered. It juddered.
‘Don’t go out,’ I begged it. ‘Please don’t you go out. Not yet. I couldn’t bear it.’
Suddenly it seemed incredibly important that it not fall into ash. Not while I was still here, still awake, still in need of light and warmth and hope.
But it did. Of course it did. The house fell dark. Fell silent. And the cold crept in. So I crawled to bed.
I could build a new one, of course. Even if the embers are no longer glowing, I could start afresh. A phoenix from the ashes. Except…there are no more logs in the woodshed. The coal bucket is empty. And the snow is falling.
I SO need a plan.