Conscious Aging: “I Never Expected to Be Here”

This post is for The Other Mary. You know who you are, and so probably does The Original Mary, both friends and regular readers and dear and longtime friends to each other. Good morning, ladies. 🙂


Anyone who’s reached a certain age knows that life brings unexpected turns, not always pleasant ones. Spouses die suddenly, or not suddenly but sadly all the same. Brilliant minds succumb to Alzheimer’s. That funny symptom isn’t just an annoyance that will pass with time, but an early harbinger of a serious disease.

A common phrase, in the midst of such surprises, is often this: “I never expected to be here.”

Sometimes, Gracias a Dios, the surprises are good: a new relationship, an unexpected trip, a windfall. Most of us never expected to be there either. 🙂

That I write of the dark surprises first is my Irish heritage. There’s a strain of suffering embedded in the Celtic soul. I think it’s why I was drawn to existentialism in college, why Camus was my favorite writer. Go read The Stranger if you want to understand.

Happily, life intervenes to soften the dark strain. Right out of college I met Minga, and was overwhelmed by the quiet dignity that carries through even until today. Life, with its unexpected surprises, isn’t mostly dark. It’s also a great-granddaughter in a gorgeous red dress, gone seemingly overnight from a gawky teen to a beautiful young lady, a proud great grandmother standing by her side.

The Other Mary lost her husband, not suddenly but sadly. She’s doing OK, in the way that resilient people do. She has family. She has a deep taproot in her community, a supportive and loving circle of women friends. She is a curious person, for whom life still holds many mysteries to be explored.

I was cheered by her long email, bringing me up to date. There is joy to be had, even in the midst of life’s most difficult surprises, even in those places where we never expected to be.

2 thoughts on “Conscious Aging: “I Never Expected to Be Here”

  1. How wonderful to read these sage words from someone who has been there, done that…..etc. Life is lived well by taking each day as it comes and learning as you travel along. Empathy and understanding are gifts that are given and sometimes missed if we are not paying attention because life can get so busy. The Other Mary is so fortunate to have the gift of your friendship and wisdom.

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