Thursday, March 08, 2007

Nightly Reflections

Each night while changing clothes, she purposely faced herself in the mirror - examining each curve, inspecting her shape, turning first left and then right, comparing profiles. It was as intertwined into her nightly routine as deeply as washing her face.

Four-plus decades under gravity's influence leave a discernible legacy. What was firm was now looser, what was thin was now thicker - and it seemed everything was in competition to see what could droop the furthest. Inside, she felt pretty much as she had since girlhood, yet outwardly, her body was being replaced by her mother's.

Of course, this nightly ritual of observation and analysis wasn't logical; after all, another transit of the earth could neither reduce inches nor relax the lines ever more obvious around her eyes. Nonetheless, the little girl inside never completely accepted that the years were here to stay. Maybe today would be different, just maybe...

On the bed, observing, sat her husband; he took that to be his responsibility in this nightly custom.

"You're watching me," she said without turning toward him, feeling his gaze.

"You're gorgeous," came the simple response.

"I don't know how you can say that," she replied, holding in her belly and monitoring her reflection. "I feel so fat."

"I think you get better looking every year. I can't wait until you're 80."

Turning from the mirror to face him, she saw that familiar, loving grin; his eyes still danced each time she met his gaze.

"I wish I saw myself the way you do," she said.

Rising from the bed, he joined her in front of the mirror. "Look at me: gray hair, crow's feet, more wrinkles than you - and these." He pinched the few extra inches of skin encircling his waist. "I could say the same thing. What do you see in me?"

"I love you," she replied. "You look great for 50. You make me laugh. You accept me for who I am."

"Back at you," he said.

In the mirror stood a middle-aged couple - all things considered, doing OK. Youthful days of tight, tan, firm bodies had receded; replaced with the wisdom of years, mutual respect from a good partner, and the friendship and love of a strong relationship. Measured by that light, they were stunning.

She took him by the hand, shut off the light, and left the mirror behind.

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