He drifts deeper into winter, long hour after long hour, each night stretching farther into darkness than the last. His days reduced to fleeting glimpses of reflected light, the comforting touch of a familiar hand on his shoulder, a warm meal to fill and lead him back, exhausted, to the welcome release of sleep.
The moments are quiet and gentle, as he sits in his chair – a warm blanket draped carefully over his lap, the paper folded and ready at his side – and watches a world spin in strange and unfamiliar ways around him. All those satellites that had once moved in steady orbit around him shifting in and out of focus, the days blending and blurring, as a once vast and mighty gravity fades, then falters, then is forgotten. It is getting harder to remember a time, when it was not like this.
When the colors were vivid and striking, in their volume and energy. When summer bloomed bright, and the world shivered and flushed luminous with hunger for the deep greens of trees heavy with sun-soaked leaves, for the laughter of distant children, for the promise of distant shores under azure skies — waiting, patiently, for the day when there would be time to savor it all. A promise, to himself and the one who held his heart: our time will come.
So much energy, churning inside of him. Such a roiling fury of intellect and curiosity and conflict over who he’d been and who he was becoming. Such a passion to taste and savor the finer life that once had seemed impossibly distant and alien but – in those long, summer days – felt so tantalizingly close… and such a drive to prove he was worthy of it all. To the world beyond the world he’d known. To those he’d left behind, by choice or necessity. To those closest to him, and those who’d never really know him at all.
To his children, beloved and aching for connection and forever at arm’s length.
I wonder if he had imagined the summer would stretch on forever.
The hours slip by and the light moves quietly across the world beyond the windows. In the blink of an eye it is summertime and he is 40 and the humid air weighs heavy against his arms and he hears children outside calling to one another and the bright pop of a cork pulling free in the kitchen and
he is 65 and the simple things are becoming harder to navigate, tougher to remember, and perhaps it is time he
is 72 and sleep is the sweetest release, an escape from the weight of days and the burden of memory, when snow falls softly and the colors fade in these darkening hours and
the voices of children and grandchildren and the one who held his heart
blend and blur
then vanish in the chilly air.