I turned 44 last weekend. I have to say, I love getting older. And so far, the 40s are my favorite decade yet!
Birthdays are such powerful days.
As someone who has experienced infertility knows, a viable pregnancy itself is a miracle. A live birth is another. Surviving childhood is something we take for granted now but was not guaranteed even just a couple of generations ago.
The memories that birthdays evoke and the expectations that arise with them can be startling! They can put us so surely in our experience. They can also pull us away.
I have a memory from childhood, maybe I was 5 or 6. I thought that everyone had forgotten my birthday. Then, there was a surprise party. I was confused. It was only a couple of years ago that I was actually convinced that the surprise was the intention all along…
My sister shared another powerful memory with me recently. One of our family’s traditions was that you got to choose your birthday dinner, it could be anything you wanted. Except for her… because it was too hot to cook dumplings in the summertime. She’s the middle child. She usually had to compromise. She’s really good at it.
These days I’ve come to expect that my friends with kids will be busy on the weekends with birthday parties. There are always cakes and presents. I hear about elaborate plans. I’ve seen a fair share of tantrums and tears.
These lives are so precious, so impermanent, so important. Rituals and traditions keep us connected. Except, when they don’t.
A birthday without a mom is a strange thing. And when you live thousands of miles away from where you grew up and the people you’re related to… things are different.
This year there weren’t any presents to unwrap or cake. I have everything that I need, but still couldn’t help missing the ritual…
I wore a golden crown, sat under a golden Happy Birthday sign, blew out a candle in an egg frittata and got to spend the day with 10 of my favorite people: The Golddiggers. As luck would have it, my birthday has fallen over the Klondike Road Relay race weekend for the past couple of years. It’s both the easiest built in celebration you could imagine and also, not really mine.
I got text messages from a few of my siblings, a call from another, and a card from my Dad a few days later (who’s still getting used to doing the things that my Mom used to do.) I have a dear friend who LOVES birthdays and is offering some special attention. Otherwise, it’s up to me to decide who and what and when and how to celebrate the miracle of my birth and my life.
And for each of us… as the Earth returns to the position it was in at the time of our birth… we have the opportunity to reflect on the pathway that has led us back here.
We can remember the people, characters in our story, who were close then and are faraway now… choose to see who is close now and will someday be gone. We can see the trajectory of our potential realized as it guides our course and will continue to do so. We can choose to see the power and profound impermanence of these conditions that we call our life, or not. We might just notice the aches and pains, the wrinkles, gray hairs and disappointment.
That’s not my path.
With each moment passing, our opportunity is waning. Life is here, now.
Its end is getting closer every day… celebrate however you can, whatever you can, whenever you can! Let me know when I can join you. I LOVE to celebrate!
Happy Birthday to me…