Self Portrait

Today, I looked in the mirror and saw the woman reflected back at me.

She was no longer in the bloom of youth, yet neither was she in the fall of her life.

She looked sweet , tired, content, sure of who she was. Yet, there was a sadness in the depths of her eyes. I could see a life well lived, although they numbered only 33.

I could see the joys she experienced in the lines around her eyes. Those eyes looked ready to crinkle at the slightest provocation.

I could see the tragedies in the solemn lines of her expression and the empathy found there. For how can she experience suffering and then not hurt for those who suffer around her?

She had wild curly hair. It seemed to reflect the tumult of emotions she carried around in her breast. Threaded in that hair of ebony, were strands of silver.

I saw her reflect on the dear soul who had left her life, suddenly and painfully. I saw that she had expected to tease him about the silver he was suppose to sprout one day. How she expected to be an old woman surrounded by loved ones, peaceful in the knowledge that she was to go before him, but life is an unexpected beast at times. This soul was ripped away from her life. From the lives of those she loved, who loved him as she did. They were all left behind, feeling alone and forgotten. Like a child’s toy, once loved, but now sitting at the bottom of a toy chest.

In the mirror, I looked at this woman’s body. It was twisted and broken, strong and erect. Her body bore the marks of caring for her daughter. It showed her love of a soul trapped in a body that doesn’t work. It showed the strength of heart to continue to lift, cradle, and nurture a body well beyond infancy. I also saw the compassion she had, in the stoop of her shoulders. How those shoulders were rounding down to comfort her child against her breast. Never minding that her child was nearly her size. So, even twisted and broken I saw the beauty of love in that body.

I saw the toll of emotional stress on her body. How over the years she had put her needs behind everyone else’s needs. However, I also saw the signs of her pushing herself to the front. I saw her muscles defining themselves with exercise. I saw the leaner lines from the nutritious food she ate to nourish both her mind and body.

I saw in the mirror, a woman well loved. She looked content, a product of the support she received. I see her family and friends reflected in her slight smile, in the peace in her eyes, in the jewelry that marks her body. A ring from her beloved, a nose pin from her mother, a necklace from her heart sister.

Her features reflected her siblings and the love she carries for them. I see her sisters in her eyes. One brother in her forehead, another in her cheeky faces, and the other two in the length of her eyelashes. Her mother and grandmother were the structure of her face. There is so much strength and love in those features.

Reflected in that face I can see her search for God. It is stamped in the clay on her forehead. I see her connection to God in the earth under her nails. That earth tells me she finds joy in the nurturing of God’s natural form. She admires it like no other part of Him.

I look at this woman in the mirror and she smiles at me, as I smile at her. We both take a sigh and, as one, turn away to continue on this path called life. I know I will see her again and she will be changed and different, but I will know her as she is, always.

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