Sitting in the chair by the day room window, Celeste slowly drank her coffee and tried to block out the sound of Sid yelling for his wife. Aisha, the charge nurse, was trying to remind him that his wife had died last year and wouldn’t be coming for lunch. Normally Celeste wasn’t bugged by Sid’s outbursts when they happened, but she hadn’t slept well last night making her irritable plus there was all the pain in her joints. She felt like she had been hit by a bus in her bed. It was so bad that she had had to ask for help to out of bed this morning. She hated to ask for help. When had she become so weak and frail? It was so embarrassing. Celeste thought of the days when she used to pop right out of bed and go running in the morning. The freedom of being able to move how ever she wanted was long gone. Getting old was a cruel process. She watched her other friends here at the manor getting older too. Some lost their hearing and others their sight and the unfortunate few lost both. The talk at bingo often turned into a competition about who had the most ailments or the worst pain. Celeste never won. She had always been one of the healthiest in the place, but in the last couple of months her body had been deteriorating. She kept trying to deny it, but riding in the wheel chair this morning forced her into reality. She wanted to scream and cry and yell at the world, but what good would that do, so she sat sipping her coffee listening to Sid cry. Aisha must have finally convinced him that Katy wasn’t coming. Poor Sid. She hoped she never lost her mind like that. At least her husband was already gone. He never had to see her in this place. He never had to see her get old. The tears started then. She couldn’t stop them no matter how hard she tried. She really hurt and she hated it. She didn’t want to be this person. This little old lady. Why couldn’t she have just died with Adam? Why did she have to get old all by herself? They were supposed to do it together. They were going to be there for each other. They had always joked about losing their teeth, getting those gray hairs, and walking with their walkers side-by-side off into the sunset. Celeste could barely walk now. Maybe losing her mind wouldn’t be so bad. She would want to totally lose it though. Having moments of clarity would be horrible. Sandra, a friend of Celeste’s, saw her crying and came over and sat in the chair opposite Celeste. Sandra put her hand on her friend’s knee and squeezed. Celeste reached down and held her friend’s hand. She didn’t want to talk, but she was happy to have a hand to hold. They sat there like that for quite awhile, just holding hands, and looking out the window until Celeste got her tears under control. Celeste finally let go of Sandra’s hand so she could clean herself up and blow her nose.
“Everything OK Cel?”
Celeste took a minute to answer.
“Getting old fucking sucks.”
Sandra started laughing and said, “You’re tellin’ me sister.”
They both sat there and laughed until it hurt too much.