I’ve never felt as old as I do today. And if you were with me now to hear me say it you would laugh and tell me that I’ve simply never been as old as I am today, and we would laugh together and pass the time driving over the Canadian Shield talking and laughing together.
But I still feel older than ever. I have felt weakness of course and injury often in my life, I’ve felt vulnerability lying on the forest floor after crashing my bike and body into the stump of a tree. I’ve endured terror and sadness and misadventure. But today I simply feel old, worn out.
Unless I look right at him Jim is easy to miss sleeping mummified in the passenger seat, white gauze wrapped around his head protecting his blackened ears, his hands also wrapped and useless and once unwrapped will be less by three fingers the doctors removed for fear of more damage. He’ll be down a couple of toes too and I wonder how he will cope with his new cut up body since he barely seemed to be able to cope when he was whole. He has pills that should keep him safe of infection while he heals, and it will be up to Billy and me to do the rest. I’ve cancelled bookings of clients and made some people very angry in doing so, but all three of us will need our energy right now to put Jim back together.
I wish you were here with me instead of Jim. So many times we drove this highway north through the forest the two of us or Billy too as a child singing songs with you from the back seat, his childhood voice little more than a whisper and waiting for yours to prompt or fill in the words. I would watch him in the rear view mirror with his eyes never wavering from the back of your head, in the summer with the windows open he would reach up and catch you hair hectic in the wind or hold his own out of his eyes with both his hands planted on his small forehead. Always his eyes on the back of your head waiting for the next line of a song or a clue for Eye Spy. And later when we took in Jim and the two boys then sharing the back seat sleepily watching the trees race by out the window or reading books or playing Eye Spy now between the two of them. And then your eyes I watched, furtively in the vanity mirror smiling as the boys laughed together, you wishing to play too but afraid to ask as they were getting along so well.