The Best Thing I Know About Aging

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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!

Love,

Jen

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Cara Brown - February 5, 2014

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

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Amy Ozarow Oscar - February 5, 2014

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

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Susannah Conway - February 5, 2014

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

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    jenlouden - February 5, 2014

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

    Reply
hiroboga - February 5, 2014

Love this, and you. Thank you, Jen.

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Lisa McLoughlin - February 5, 2014

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

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Susan Tuttle - February 5, 2014

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

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Julie Daley - February 5, 2014

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

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Lora Jansson - February 5, 2014

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

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tracey clark - February 5, 2014

love this my friend.

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Barb Burns Churchill - February 5, 2014

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

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sonja - February 5, 2014

…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.

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Anne Jablonski - February 6, 2014

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

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SueKearney - February 17, 2014

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,
Sue

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welcome to the revolution! - October 28, 2017

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