I saw a once vivid and self-proclaimed beauty queen today. She used to cover her deep red locks with a silk scarf, a shroud for her. She would wear light coloured gold tinted sunglasses that would span the width of her face and her lipstick would be perfectly kissing all the creases of her lips. I remember the way she would dress; in a polished suit with a silk scarf gracing her neck and her filigree Italian necklaces hanging from her small and graceful neck. Her nails would be perfectly polished, and the rings that she wore all held a story. She was poised, and yet sometimes abrupt and opinionated. She was sure of herself and certain of the way all things should be done. Her apartment was a dedication to the life that she had lived, full of artifacts from many previous lives, loves and adventures that she ventured on. It was her museum, and like her, everything had it’s proper place and story, everything had meaning and everything was to be cherished and loved from afar. I remember thinking of how glorious it must have been to have travelled the world, experienced the exasperation of falling in and out of love, of finding comfort in certainty and of knowing exactly who she was at any given moment in her life. I always thought I knew this woman. I held a bracelet given to me from her only a few years ago, and it brought me back to days in her kitchen. She would spend hours cooking up a feast of food, wearing her apron around her polished suit and the bracelet would be hitting pots and pans as she would stir and tap her wooden spoon on the saucepans. A quick taste here and there and barely flinching from her committment to feeding us, she would gracefully and confidently construct a delicious meal to set before hungry and greedy mouths. We would clamber to the table and she, in her own perfection, would serve us. We would eat, and she would sit at last, only to get up a few moments later and clear the table.
I saw a woman today, frail and weak. I saw her beauty beneath the 87 years that she carries. I saw a woman today that didn’t know who she was. I saw a woman today who didn’t remember who I was. I saw a woman today, crushed and devastated to know that she doesn’t know. There is no certainty. There is no proper place, no suits or lipstick. There are no rings, no artifacts that grace her room. There are no silk scarves, only bibs. There are no patent leather high heels, but slippers and a walker. There is no nail polish on perfectly shaped nails, just fragile fingers uncontrollably shaking. Her eyes have grown small and the wisdom has slipped away, just like her memories and her moments. Her lips quiver when she speaks quietly and with confusion. I hold her hand as we walk. She looks at me like it’s the first moment we meet, and for her it is. We met about ten times today and each time, her heart breaking as she momentarily grasps my familiarity. I look at her deeply, trying to find her. Is she there, my self-proclaimed beauty queen ?
I saw a woman today, standing in fire, slowing looking for someone to save her, but unsure if she was in pain. I saw a woman today who made so many of my memories and made some many of my moments. I saw a woman today when I looked at her, looking through me.