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Vitreous Humor

Tom Sturch

pie-fight-primary What they don't tell you is that getting older comes on you like a pie in the face: suddenly, unjustly, and funny to onlookers. And not funny to you. It comes like a slow-motion pratfall. It feels like a prank show genius has studied your increasing night-time eliminations and booby-trapped the route with a banana peel, a toy truck and a hoe in perfect succession. Aging comes blindly, symptom by symptom, each with its own joke.

For instance, my glaucoma came first as night visions. The ones like shadow people. Presences by your bed at three in the morning that wait for you to wake up enough to give you a heart attack. They'll tell you later it's just the vitreous humor in your one eye increasing pressure on your last nerve, or something like that. But until they do the shadow people will get their nightly kicks at the price of your terror. And then once you know, it's as if the eye doctor and the soul-stealing succubi are in on it together. They aren't of course, but you'll swear you can hear the laugh track.

And here's the truly absurd part: I am giving you an account of what it's like to get older, but until you're there these stories will be about someone else and not you. And though you'll have been warned you still won't see it coming.

When Jesus was transfigured, even after forty days of enjoying his post-crucifixion presence, the disciples despaired for their imagined messiah: the one of a conquering hero who would restore Israel to glory. But instead he is one in a world of darkness as gradually dawning light.

If you're as lucky as me you'll survive the indignity of aging to discover the benefits of professional advice and new habits. I'm getting better sleep now. The shadow people are dissolved into a fuller reality. The same is happening with my wife. She was fitted with a continuous positive airway pressure device. You know the term CPAP. It's one of those things no one wants to have. An alien on your face and Wife of Darth jokes. You wear facial indentations to work every morning and swear people are thinking, Weren't you in Mad Max? or, Hey, Bane! But for years my wife was beset with irregular heart beats, palpitations that made her feel her chest would explode. And now she's better. We're better.

The face of love changes. You won't see it coming.