Jeniffer remembers the exact day she realized she had it. It came as a shock, even though her mother and aunts all had it. Up until then, she had magically believed she would somehow be spared. That she was untouchable.
The early symptoms are unmistakable every time she looks in a mirror. Her hair, once luxurious and glossy, is now thin and tired looking. She cuts it shorter and shorter to compensate. She grieves the glorious mane of hair she used to carelessly toss up in a ponytail or tie back to work out.
Her skin dull and lined. Every day new signs emerge. Unsightly bulging growths of tissue appear on her previously slender, alluring silhouette. New aches and pains come from nowhere and make no sense.
In the later stages, she knows she will fumble and drop things. She’s seen it in her mother. The insomnia. The forgetfulness. The stress incontinence. No part of her body would be spared, every function ravaged. Eyesight. Hearing. Eventually nothing in her body will work quite right.
How did this happen? She grieves the body never to be hers again.
The losses too many to count, Jeniffer desperately tries to slow it down, to hide it, to deny it.
But there are no cures. There are pills and creams and surgeries to halt the inevitable. But in the end…it’s terminal and all succumb.
The social stigma for her condition is harsh. Will her husband still love her, stand by her, as the condition progresses and leaves her unrecognizable to her former self?
Will she be forgotten and replaced by someone who was once like her, untouchable? Seen as no longer relevant, someone to be tolerated?
Jeniffer has good days and bad days. On good days she holds her head high, double chin and wrinkled neck notwithstanding. What else can she do?
But slowly Jeniffer realizes she has a grounding wisdom about her and that others come to her for advice. She has a wealth of life experience and skill sets. As a seasoned nurse, she is an authority in her field and can influence nursing practice.
Jeniffer loves the passion and idealism of young nurses and wants to help them grow and remain committed.
She further reflects and realizes she doesn’t miss the youthful jealousies and uncertainties of young love. She is secure in the lifetime of love shared with her husband. She smiles at young mothers with toddlers and cherishes her own serene, orderly home.
She loves her grandchildren with a freedom she didn’t have with her own, because she was far too busy parenting.
She no longer lusts after material things, because by now, she knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t want, and she has most things she wants. On the contrary, she simplifies her life but enjoys her passions more. Life. Just as it should be.
One day it dawns on her. Life has never been richer. she looks in the mirror and sees a beautiful, mature woman. Getting older is OK after all.
Until next time friend,
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