The Best Thing I Know About Aging

I once knew a woman who talked to the dead. “They would give anything for one more touch,” she told me, “one more hug.” She mentioned angels want bodies, too.

That’s the most salient benefit I know about aging – it teaches you gratitude. Pure animal gratitude. In the steamy-trenches-of-life savoring gratitude. It teaches you to celebrate the beauty of these three words: I’m still here.

In my 20’s and 30’s, even the first half of my 40’s, I talked a good talk about being present and savoring life, but there is nothing like loss to teach you true. What I wouldn’t give to hug my dad one more time, to hug Eric, my brilliant friend-brother lost to addiction, to sit around the Sunday dinner table with all those aunts and uncles and cousins – all gone but one. What I wouldn’t give to feel my body paddling up a north-flowing river, pain free and so very, very able. So many pockets of life passed on. Such is the current that carries us.

And such is the gratitude – you are here, being carried. Breathing. Hugging your beloveds.

I’ve come to love aging because it has taught me such honest gratitude. In the contrast between what is and what won’t be, I learn with a gasp: this, this. Now, now! I try to tell Lillian this truth, but I know it’s mostly wasted. Not because she doesn’t listen. But because what can never be touched again teaches you to touch now.

I lie next to Bob in bed and run my hand down his chest, feeling for that notch on his left rib, the small gap that makes him flinch when I press in on it. He pulls away, thinking I do it to bug him. I do it to remember. Remember this, I think, remember this precious body, this body I love. Memorize it. I hug Lilly the same way, gasping inwardly at her Lilly-ness, the fruity scent of her shampoo, my gratitude for her presence. Aidan towers over me and I still see him as I did the first time I met him. We were standing by my car, a hank of his lovely hair hanging in his face. Without thinking, I reached out and tucked it behind his ear.

This gratitude makes me drunk with life – gritty and pain-striped, blessed. It buoys me through all the repetitive conversations with mom, through rehabbing my back yet again, through the seven-times-a-day search for the reading glasses and my waist:

This, this. Now, now!



Grab your Sanity Support Kit Here Enjoy the Life Organizer App, Motivational Emails & Journal Prompts

  • Cara Brown

    Thank you for this gift this morning. Love this and love you.

    • jenlouden


  • Amy Ozarow Oscar

    All I can think to write her is, “ahhhh….” And also, bless you and thank you for this gift of a post. xxoo

    • jenlouden

      thanks friend!!

  • Susannah Conway

    So so beautiful, Jen, thank you so much for this gift, today of all days xx

    • jenlouden

      happy birthday and thanks for asking me to be part of this!

  • hiroboga

    Love this, and you. Thank you, Jen.

    • jenlouden

      love you darling!

  • Lisa McLoughlin

    You blew me away with your thoughtful words…thank you x

    • jenlouden

      ahhh! thank you!

  • Susan Tuttle

    Such a gift to discover your blog through Susannah. Thank you for sharing this post — filled with truth, pure wisdom, and love!

    • jenlouden

      Nice to meet you Susan!

  • Julie Daley

    We are damn lucky to be here. Yes! What a gift being in a human body is.

    • jenlouden


  • Lora Jansson

    Such joy here. And yes, You have done it again. How can you so concisely speak what also lives in my heart? Thank you.

  • tracey clark

    love this my friend.

    • jenlouden


  • Barb Burns Churchill

    Beautiful, Jen. I love the memorizing part. Off to sleep – and memorize my hubby.

    • jenlouden

      thank you!!

  • sonja

    …seven times a day search for the reading glasses, and the waist (waste)…

    Jennifer, a friend introduced me to Brene Browns’ work…and then Brene introduced you to her blog readers…I fell head over heels in life with your guide to a mindful year…thank you.

    • jenlouden

      so glad to be connected Sonja!!!!

  • Anne Jablonski

    Thank you Jennifer. Your words resonate within me, as if they were my own.

    • jenlouden

      thank you Anne!!

  • Pingback: A Reminder About Aging And Our Bodies | Weightless()

  • Pingback: It Happened this Week: Underdogs, Aging & Diet as Religion | 1500 Calorie Diet Plans()

  • SueKearney

    Thanks, echoing all the thanks in the comments below. I don’t have a spouse to memorize, but I so know the feeling every time I hug my daughter, gaze at her, memorize her. I’m still here.

    So grateful for you!
    Love and light,