It was a beautiful summer morning with the sun rising on the horizon, the silence of the neighbourhood allowed me to gather my thoughts and prepare for the day ahead. The birds were particularly chipper today, their song echoing from the trees in the park as the sun created a stunning red silhouette behind the canopy. Taking a coffee out to the balcony, I peruse the vista of the city skyline as the world wakes from its nightly slumber.
I sit at the small outdoor table, watching the world pass by. Early risers walk briskly to the train station for their daily commute into the city, earphones in and eyes transfixed by their smartphones. The children in the house next door get ready for another day at school after late nights lost in the digital world, reluctantly rising from their slumber, their parents frantically trying to get them out the door. Weary workers from the units down the road, struggling to make ends meet were coming home from their busy night shifts, unable to break the cycle. So much activity in the neighbourhood, yet isolation abounds, people trapped in a world of routine and repetition.
The serenity of the dawn was soon broken by the humming of the cars and the clattering of passing trains, as the city slowly came to life. Everyone running from here to there, keeping a frantic pace and getting lost in the rat race. I was once a part of this, spinning on the treadmill yet moving nowhere, not letting myself take the time to see the beauty in the simple things that life had to offer. Time is something we can never buy more of, a realisation we often come to when we don’t have much of it left.
Making my way inside, I sat at my desk, surrounded by a gallery of framed photographs and checked my social media feed. I took great delight in watching the lives of my children and grandchildren. Their achievements and milestones bring me joy and for that I was grateful. A message from my grandson pops up, accompanied by a photograph with the gift that I had carefully packed and sent him for his birthday. “Thanks Pa. Love you heaps” with a love heart emoji that made me smile. Another post from my daughter, with some snapshots from her latest adventures on her travels around the world. I immensely enjoyed these moments, but as I looked at a particular silver gilded frame, I knew there was something missing.
My wife passed last year, a kind and gentle soul who I loved dearly. The nights are when I feel it most, the loneliness becomes oppressive and my thoughts wandered. She was an avid reader, with large bookcases lining the walls of our apartment. The yin to my yang, she brought a calming sense of balance to my frenetic life. I still feel her presence with me. Whenever I visit our favourite places, the smells of her favourite dish or a song can trigger a memory of the times we shared. We had planned our lives together, thinking we had all the time in the world, but life does not always go to plan. I do get melancholy, but I made her a promise that I was determined to keep.
“Never look back,” were her last words as I grasped her hand in the hospital, the dappled light of the sunrise peeking through the window as she took her final breath. Even throughout her illness, which she fought valiantly, she insisted we continue to embrace life, immersing ourselves in the experiences and the people that brought us happiness. Those final months were some of the happiest yet saddest days of our lives, memories I would cherish forever.
Now, with the dawn of every new day, I look forward to embracing all of the possibilities that beckon and keeping the promise that I had made.
© T. Zerafa 2023
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