DAILY PROMPT: Good Tidings
Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.
The younger woman stood hesitantly in the open door. I studied her fair, unblemished complexion, her long, thick, strawberry-blond hair, and felt a twinge of grief for the lost years of my youth. Her eyes widen in surprise and apprehension as ours locked.
I stood to greet her, “Thank you for coming,” I said.
She pulled out a chair. “A bit creepy but,” she shrugged, “As they say, Curiosity killed the cat.”
“Don’t drink coffee but I’ll take an iced tea.”
Surprised she hadn’t come in with a sweet tea in her hand, I turned toward the bar. “Be right back,” I said, remembering the large cup of tea I carried for years like a pacifier.
“God I love this stuff,” she said taking a long, satisfying sip. “Sooo, this is how I’m going to look in ten years?”
“Hope you’re not disappointed,” I said, swallowing the coffee and temptation to pull out my compact. “I do try to keep my appearance appealing.” Even at this old age, I wanted to add.
She shook her head, extending her hand as if to grab back her words. “Oh Lord no, I didn’t mean you looked bad,” she said stumbling over her words. “I meant you look great for a woman your age. I’m glad to know wrinkles don’t run in the family.”
My face heated up under her scrutiny. A woman of my age? Great.
Her eyes narrowed behind the straw. “You don’t do Botox do you?”
I laughed feeling the tension release. “Not yet, but I’m evaluating its merits.”
Leaning back, she crossed her arms. “So how does this work? You give me the lowdown on my future, how to avoid mistakes, get rich, marry the right man, what?”
“No, wish I could. Those decisions have already been written into history. As they say,” I couldn’t resist mimicking her own sarcasm, “That ship has sailed.”
“Then what’s the point of this little tête-à-tête?”
“Give you a heads up, help you learn from my mistakes, I don’t know. I guess it was a chance offered I couldn’t refuse either.”
She sat her tea down and stared at me. “Well me, what will my life be like? I guess you’re gonna tell time flies, smell the roses, that sort of thing.”
I shrugged, “It’s true, time does fly. In the blink of an eye, you’ll be this grey-haired woman you’re staring at in with skepticism. I can’t tell you what your life will become. I can, however, share three things: the most challenging, most rewarding, and the most fun thing you have to look forward over the next ten years. Interested?”
She rolled her eyes, “Okay great, hit me.”
No wonder mom hated me rolling my eyes. I swallowed my annoyance. “I don’t have all the answers, but I can start by sharing your most rewarding experience.” I smiled at the memory. “When you hold your first grandchild.”
She leaned forward, her mouth open in surprise. “I’ll be a grandmother? Boy or girl?”
“I won’t reveal that surprise but I’ll tell you, to hold your first grandchild is amazing. Watching them grow, spoiling them, feeling such unconditional love and hearing them call you Nana,” My eyes pooled with tears, “Is incredible.”
“Not sure I wanna be called Nana and definitely NOT grandma, but I’m sure I can come up with something that doesn’t scream old.”
I laughed and took a swig of cold coffee. Grimacing, I pushed it aside. “You’ll love Nana,” I said. I reached across touching her hand. “Grandkids are wonderful, but you’re gonna face some tough challenges too, prepare yourself.”
Her brow wrinkled in concern. “Why, what happens?”
My voice broke. “You’ll lose someone very close to you.”
A look akin to fear clouded her eyes and she drew her hand away. “Who?”
I shook my head. “That I can’t tell you but it will be hard. It will happen quickly and nothing you do will change the outcome. This loss will shatter your foundation, make you question God, your faith, and shake your trust in people.”
Her chest heaved with anger and anxiety. “Why would you tell me such horrible shit?”
“Because I want you to enjoy the moments. Catalog memories and fortify your faith. It will get you through the darkest days.”
“You said one of the most…”
“Oh, there’ll be others, but mostly it’s life. Shit happens.” I glanced at my watch. Time was almost over and I didn’t want to leave her anxious, fearful of her future. “Look, I didn’t mean to upset you. Don’t dwell on the negatives. You’ll have many happy, fun and treasured times ahead, focus on those.”
She let out a breath and picked up her tea. “Good to know my life isn’t going to be all doom and gloom.”
“Not at all. Besides the fun times you share with your daughters and grandchildren, the most fun thing you will do is something you will write on a bucket list.”
“Oh my God, I’m already writing a bucket list? Jesus, what aren’t you telling?”
I burst out laughing. “Oh lots, but you’re gonna love this one. The most fun thing you can look forward to is a ten-day trip to Paris with your daughter.”
Her excited exclamation resonated throughout the coffee shop. “Holy shit! Really? I’ve always wanted to go to Paris. In fact, I told my husband, I swear, before I die I will go to Paris, with or without you.”
“I know you did and you will. It will be the trip of a lifetime. The two of you will have so much fun. This trip will create the kind of memories that feed your soul, I promise.”
She sat back, a dreamy look on her face. “Wow, Paris.”
I scooted my chair back, rising.
She jumped up knocking her chair over and grabbed my arm. “Wait, please don’t go. I want to, no I need to hear more, please.”
I patted her hand, leaned in and brush the younger cheek of myself with a kiss. “I’m sorry, I can’t and besides there isn’t enough time to tell you all the crooks and turns life has in store for you. Remember, you’re a smart, independent woman with a tremendous capacity to love. You don’t always show it, most people don’t, but I’m giving you a heads up. Learn.”
I gave her a hug, lingering a bit before whispering in her ear, “Stay true to yourself, hold fast to your faith and you will have a good life.” I released her and walked to the door, looking back one last time. She at the table checking her watch. Her best friend hurried through the door saying, “I know, I know I’m late. I’m sorry I couldn’t help it.”
Sheila laughed and shook her head. “You realize one of these days I’m not gonna wait on your ass.”
I exited to their laughter.