Looking in the Mirror

Sandra - Winchester, Virginia
Entered on September 4, 2008
Age Group: 65+
Themes: death, family


Although it reflects life, looking in the mirror, often reminds me of death. I see my Auntie Bum! Only 17 years older than I, people often took us for sisters. I don’t know how we inherited this shared ‘look.’ We never could find ourselves in our ancestors’ photographs. She was Dad’s only sibling and one of my favorite aunts. Being reminded of her when I look in the mirror is somehow comforting. It ties us together. She died just over two years ago. I miss her.

My cousin, her daughter, has told me it’s sometimes unsettling for her to hear her mother’s voice, quips and humor when I speak. She often catches her mom’s expressions on my face.

Auntie Bum left us a long time before her death. She suffered from dementia and checked out long before her physical death when her heart stopped beating. My mother, born 11 years before Auntie Bum, follows in her footsteps.

I’m reminded almost every time I look in the mirror of my mother’s comment in the late 80s. As Dad’s caretaker after he suffered a stroke, in her anxiety she shared, “I’d just like to know what the next five years will bring.” Perhaps if she knew what was in store for Dad and her, she could somehow plan their futures.

These days when I take the time to look in a mirror, I catch myself pondering the same question. In five years will we still be living out this enjoyable retirement? Will we continue in excellent health? And then, immediately, my mind shifts to people whom we have loved and lost.

My dad asked me to consider one time, “Do we mourn someone’s loss because they have died? Or do we mourn others’ deaths because of its effect on us?” More than my future, most of all, I think about losing my friends and family. They’re such an integral part of my life. When I check out, I’m gone, but when they check out, I’m left bereft.

It just isn’t easy being a player in this evolutionary process–being born and then dying–when the living goes by so fast. I realize dealing with loss is a part of aging. So much more important to me is that we lose our favorite aunts; our mom can’t remember us; close friends pass away. We’re all on the same path. After life, comes death–with or without a mirror to remind one of time’s passing. Maybe it’s a good thing that man made religion to wrestle with this dilemma of being born and then dying. This I believe: Although looking in the mirror reflects life, it continues to remind me of death. It is such a short trip.

Sandra Brian Lore