“…who is THAT woman?”

Husband and I at the 2019 Butterbean Festival with a Chick-fil-a cow.

Fifty-six is not a terribly high number. A lot closer to sixty than I want, but still, not bad. Right? My own mother passed away when she was fifty-four. Given my health issues and the number of times my husband and I have been told I probably would not make it through the night alive, fifty-six is a gift.

In December of “the year that shall not be spoken” our daughter got COVID-19 on her job as a health care worker. Then her father and I did too. Our daughter is 19, healthy and aside from feeling bad she recovered quickly. It hit my husband and I much harder. Between the two of us, I was the sicker one although none of us had to be in the hospital. (Sincerely, thank You Father!)

Finally “recovered” I looked in the mirror, down at my hands and my one foot left after the amputation and recoiled in disbelief. Who was this old woman staring at me with wide eyes and mouth agape?

Where had these gray hair come from? No kidding, they were not there three weeks ago. The flaky skin? The hands covered with hundreds of little wrinkles? After I inventoried every part of me I had to face the harsh truth, my body had a parade march across it and every thing left its mark.

I have never been a girly-girl but I enjoyed the times putting on the glitz and bling felt wonderful. Now, I am not kidding COVID-19 took ten years and added it to my face and hair.

Do I start wearing a wig again? Good option but they are hot in summer. Wigs provide “more hair”. My own thinned out in 2004 when I was incredibly sick (and the doctors kept promising it would grow back in) and COVID took more. So having more coverage is good.

Another option is hair color. It is an option that is going to require constant maintenance and it will not thicken my hair. Although I could go blue except for the bleaching of my hair which would damage it further.

This far I’ve been battling the flaky skin with exfoliating scrubs all over and tons of the best moisturizer and rehydration creams I can afford. Looks like a change in foundation (make-up) is also required. The one good thing about having to wear a mask when outside is that I do not have to line or use lip color on my lips surrounded by fine lines all of a sudden.

Yet, the saddest damage is to my heart. Just as quickly as COVID-19 invaded our household the feeling I am only a shell of the woman I was took residence in my mind and heart. This is going to sound even sillier than anything else I have shared but I am mourning things lost that have been gone for a decade or more. Like having a biological child. There is no need to imagine the look on the face of my face when the lab reports a positive pregnancy test anymore. Or the faces of my husband and daughter!

Passion seems to be a faded memory as well. Understanding those complicated relationships I always thought I would get later in life when I was “grown-up” does not seem to be happening either.

The good news is that aside from the health issues I knew about before today, my new doctor (my doctor of 20+ years retired when I had COVID) was pleased with how I am handling my health. Yes, I do have a few COVID “leftovers”. My left eye has a bit of black spot in the first half-hour/hour when I wake up. There is fluid build-up in my ears that causes me to hear things differently than they are said. (Or maybe my family needs to stop mumbling?)

My heart though still looks at myself and thinks, “Who is this woman with my mind, heart and soul but with all this gray hair, flaky and dry skin and fine wrinkles”?

Stick around and when I figure it out I will clue you in!

Suddenly old,

—-Donna

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