when i look at people older than me, i often wonder how they made it here. how life didn’t swallow them whole. i study their faces like a map, i see the pools of weariness in their eyes. i see the way wrinkles dangle around their mouths, how the lines seep into their skin, little reminders of how long they’ve lived. i glide my eyes over their hands, the signs of growth and age splattered on their knuckles. i wonder about the stories they’ve gone through, i wonder if they were the protagonist or the antagonist. i wonder how they managed to wake up, to sleep, to exist through so many days and nights. i get overwhelmed. i can’t even fathom the thought of tomorrow, i can’t look at it with willing eyes, i can’t embrace it with open arms. instead, i dread it. i look at all the days i've lived, and they hang around my head, all the old memories, they haunt me. and so i wonder how they did it. i wonder how they’ll continue to do it, until death decides it’s time to take them. i wonder if i’ll ever get there. if i’ll ever look in the mirror, and the fine lines growing across my face will be normal, welcoming. i wonder if my days will be worth waking up for, if the thought of tomorrow will become a gift i’m lucky enough to receive. i can’t picture myself like that, aging, embracing. i can’t muster up a version of me with gray hair, and crepe skin. i’ve always thought i’d be gone too young, that this sadness would sink me into my grave before a wrinkle could settle into my fake smile. i’ve been convinced i won’t make it out of this battle alive; that this darkness is too strong, too thick to break through. i don’t know if i’ll ever be an old soul. but i do know i’ve been a drowning one. a lost one. a dying one.