A story of grief by a man and a boy
My wife always measured people’s age in school years. I was “the year above” her even in my thirties despite the fact that we were born just eight weeks apart. I hadn’t realised that this hilariously juvenile take on time could run into a person’s sixties until I heard my dad refer to himself as “the year above” my mum just a few weeks ago (Dad, if you’re reading this please don’t let me hear you say that again).
Today I’ve spent a lot of time trying to decide how to spend my wedding anniversary and birthday this year, which fall just six days apart in August. I had no idea why the dates were plaguing me so soon until I got into bed this evening. This year I’ll be 34. No big deal, no real milestone and it hardly makes me old. But it does make me something. It makes me ‘two years above’. It makes me older than my wife ever got to be. And to be completely honest it also makes me scared.
I’m worried that I’ll be grey and wrinkled and still pine after a fresh-faced girl of 33 like some sugar daddy type. I dread the thought of looking at a picture of the beautiful young woman I married, then glancing in the mirror and seeing an old man who used to only be ‘the year above’ her.
But I guess the thing that truly fills me with horror is the idea of not getting to see a reflection of the aged me. So I tell myself that the school years I need to focus on now are not mine and my wife’s but my son’s. I just hope I’m still around to fill his ears with embarrassing comments just like my dad for many ‘years above’ and beyond.