He wanted to grow old. Not the reality of aging; the loss of bodily processes and the scent of death and decay lingering about the body like a lover. Not the kind of death that follows you and makes others uncomfortable with you because of your proximity to It.
No, he wanted the romantic age. To see the fine papering of his skin with the bones that have been with him all the while still strong (though knotted and perhaps a little softened) beneath.
The age that sees rows of wrinkles like freshly planted crops drawn across the expanse of his face, a map of who he had been.
He wanted to have been many things. Mostly worthy things. Real things.
He wanted to complain, loudly, about the menial and mundane. He wanted to be swept into the monotony of dwindling time, wanted to catch his breath with a memory so real he could still feel the warmth of it on his skin.
He wanted to be pampered, but not infantilized. He wanted to be heard and sought out, he wanted his words to drop from him as a fount of wisdom. He wanted people to collect memories of him and tell them back ages later.
He wanted to be definitively old, all the black of his hair long gone. The old that snores loudly in any number of places, that strikes up unpretentious conversation with any living being in the room. He did not want the loneliness of aging, though he would not have minded every now and again being alone.
He wanted to be able to tell them about the silver linings that one can only see from the distance of years measured against a past ache. He could tell them how much time it would take because he would have crossed the bridge and would have measured its length.
He wanted the time that comes with age. The romance, too, fake though he always knew it was, but he wanted time. He wanted meaning.
Instead, in the end, he got the jagged piercing of the heart, the abrupt cessation of everything he was and ever would be, the ripping of the string, the all encompassing blackness, the void, the fiery anger of unrequited want—all tangled with the sweet innocence of a baby’s breath still lingering on his cheek.