Waiting for Tomorrow
Last night I had a dream that I was getting dressed to go to see the doctor. I knew I was sick, but the nature of this illness was hidden. I walked into the bathroom, glanced at the mirror and saw my reflection not where I stood, but behind me in the shower. When the fogged door opened there I was, dripping wet and sitting on a plastic chair. I did not get up, but instead called out a name.
I sat there, strands of white hair spilling over my ears, my chest sunken, my bony knees protruding like the roots of a cypress tree.
Gazing into the mirror, I saw myself as an old man.
After what seemed to be a tedious wait, a young woman came in and helped me out of the shower. She brought me a towel and a walker and I shuffled off, carefully eyeing the tiled floor in front of me. My name was written on the towel in black magic marker. The walker had yellow tennis balls stuck on the bottom of its metal legs. Neither she nor I spoke a word.
I then left the vision in the mirror and walked downstairs and out to the garage, where I climbed into my car and backed out into the driveway. Just as I started out I braked and looked into the rear-view mirror. I could see the oak tree in my back yard. Sunshine dropped through the shadows of the immense branches and formed a patchwork on the grass, and the leaves fussed from the breeze.
There were people walking all over the lawn.
I saw my son tossing a ball to a little boy in shorts, while two older girls sat gossiping under the tree. They called out "Father!" and he turned. He looked the same age as I am now, his hair dappled with gray. My wife and daugher stood nearby talking. My little girl was tall and tanned, and as she spoke my wife handed her a feisty-looking baby.
I peered into the small rectangle for several minutes, but never did catch a glimpse of anyone who looked like me. The last thing I remember before awakening was driving off down the road, unable to release even a sigh. The streets passed by silently, and I encountered no other cars on the desolate road.
What does the future hold for us? Will we cheat death for so long that we outlive the life we begged for, or will we instead be harvested early, spared from any further rendezvous with the lash? Such thoughts are but fantasies found in dreams - except for those living with cancer. For them speculation is not a phantasm. It is a daily reality thrust upon them, like an uninvited guest at the table. We who live without such a burden can honor those who do by remembering that unless one respects the future as the gift it is, waiting for it is pointless; it is worthless; it is absurd.