Time lapse.

Dear friends,

Some days I look in the mirror and I don’t know who I am.

The cheeks, once taut and freckled, are softer. They have yielded to gravity in ways that suggest time has accelerated, like a time-lapse photograph of a person you once knew but is now obscured by the gauze of age.

The belly, once a slight bulge, barely a cushion between two sharp hips, has startled me recently with its surge forward and resemblance to my mother’s.

The arms, once so thin my nickname was Boney, are ample now, stronger now, the limbs of a woman who confidently strides through most of her days but longs for the striking angularity she sees only in her daughter.

The ankles are distant outposts but are at least comfortingly familiar, old friends mostly frozen in time save a few purple veins that now circumnavigate their half globes.

The breasts, they are not mine. Once upright, creamy, small but sufficient, they are victims of a landslide, the effects of which cannot be reversed by any type of artificial lift. They hang around, sullen, refusing to submit to garments that seek to restrain their sprawling desire.

The silhouette, once erect and lithe, a young shoot reaching up, up, up, has compacted, settled, reshaped itself, now all curves, a pear that is a little too ripe, too soft, but still wearing a lovely sheen, a gift that is slow to fade.

This woman who stares back at me is not me. She is an iteration of me – Joan 10.0 in a line of who knows how many versions. I may not recognize the woman in my skin, yet I feel her heart beat every .75 seconds while I tell her stories, nurse her wounds, guard her dreams, live her love.

She is the woman dying, renewing, grasping, letting go, sinking, swelling, evolving ever warily into the new thing, pleasing still if one catches glimpses of the whole rather than the parts.

She knows she is greater than the sum of her parts, stronger than whatever recent frailty has startled her, more beautiful than the fading bloom of youth’s itinerant glow. Wisdom is age’s greatest bargain and so wrap yourself in its comfort, settle in, and be kind to the person you are ever becoming.

With gratitude {for that soft-focus lens known as perspective that is the gift of age},

Joan, who believes more strongly than ever that time is on her side