We exist in a world of surprises, if we open our eyes to see them. Some are big and make us catch our breath— the unexpected happy news that fills the heart with joy. Others are small and too often go unnoticed— the first buds of spring or the peeps of newly-hatched birds. We tend to think of surprise in positive ways, but we can also be surprised by sadness— a sudden death or unsuspected illness. Surprise, by its nature, is unknown until it jumps out to startle us out of ourselves. Some people loathe surprises, they prefer to know everything in advance and keep things reliable. Others embrace surprise, enjoying whatever the next moment brings. I'm an embracer, of people and surprises, though I tend to lean toward happy in both. You know those people who like to suddenly jump in your face to startle you? I'm one of their favorite targets, as I laugh right along with their perceived joke. They can pull that off again and again, and I'll jump every time. Imagine my surprise when I looked in the mirror and saw an old woman staring back at me. It was like walking into a surprise party where everyone thought you were the guest of honor, but you weren't. Shocking. A bit horrifying. Embarrassing. Those around me are polite, pretending they don't notice, but I know they must. I should be used to it by now, but I'm not. Every mirror tells me I'm not the laughing blond girl, who danced everyday. I'm not even the woman who fell in love with a sailor, who married and had babies. And yet, she must still be in me, because every time I look in a mirror I am surprised by the old woman looking back.
~Elise Skidmore ©2023