It's a cold, damp Thursday night. My run takes me the same route it does most evenings of the winter season.
The last leg brings me to a corner house.
As always, there's a light on in the front room, and the curtains are wide open.
The TV flickers light over the back wall, and, in front, sitting in an arm chair, is the old lady at number 7.
I don't know her name. I should, by now.
I've only ever seen her outside in the summer, her zimmer frame helping her stand for brief moments in the front garden.
On those occasions, we exchange a smile. It always feels so genuine.
In the winter months, I can see her zimmer frame through the window, residing by her arm chair like a loyal dog awaiting a command.
Sometimes she's asleep; her neck slumped to the side. Other times she's fixated on the television.
As I catch a chilly breath at the top of the incline of her road, my brain pauses a moment and wonders why she keeps the curtains open. Hers is the only front room fully exposed.
And then it dawns on me. That front room is the window to her world.
Each time I run past, I look in and over to the chair.
She's always there.
The thing is; one day she won't be.
Each time I run by, I note this in my mind.
Most likely, she'll beat me to the winning post. She is old and frail, I am relatively young and agile.
I can run and walk easily. I can drive a car, visit friends, play with my daughter, go on holiday…what blessings, right?
Every time I look in through that window, I am reminded of these things and retaught the lesson in this comparison.
In that fleeting second as I run past, she is telling me this – albeit silently. In a way, I feel like that's why the curtains are open.
In the summertime, when she is able to grace the front garden, her smile is telling me the same thing.
Her fragile wave to my daughter from the safety of her porch brings with it the same message.
Life is for living. Life is now. Don't wait.
On the surface she is an old woman, in a chair, sitting on the cliff of life and awaiting her turn; on the inside, she is a book waiting to be read.
I've started reading it so many times, only to put it down and start another. We all have.
Tonight I started reading it again.
If I'm lucky, someone will run past my window one day and see me sitting in the chair, television on, curtains open.
And if that person is lucky, they'll stop a moment to witness the fragility of life and understand the lesson on display.
I don't know the old lady at number 7, I don't even know her name, yet, but I feel love and wisdom emanating from her.
She inspires me.