It is my first full day of double fives. I must share that it felt like the very best birthday ever. We’ve all had parties, where we dress in our finest clothes to suit whatever theme is chosen for us. We’re showered with hugs and kisses, we imbibe a bit too much on those wonderful fruity cocktails and we share too much about all the things we hate about getting older. Our puffy eyes, our sagging bodies, our weight… a lot of complaining about stuff that truly doesn’t matter.
For me, it was very different this year. It is two years since my cancer surgery today. And on my birthday, two years ago, I spent the day at our local Cancer Center – traumatized and fearful of the world that awaited me when my pathology results would return. It was the saddest birthday, wandering the hospital floors seeing those who had traded their hair for survival, IV’s moving along the halls banging against wheelchairs of people who looked desperate for peace. I felt deaf that day. The endless information being told as I sat unable to process anything but cancer, death, fear and the feeling of being completely alone. If there is ever a moment you doubt you are alone in this world, this experience will validate it for you. It’s a harsh reality. But it is also truth.
This entire experience showed me clearly what I was made of. How strong I could and needed to be. And I look back at that as a gift of sorts. It brought a lot of amazing experiences into my life and taught me about myself. It swung the windows of my mind open, to let the light of truth in brightly.
Fast forward two years. So many things I had prayed for to be stable still remain a challenge. I was planning to retire at 55 and that is a distant memory. I live outside the mountains and I miss their strength and how they envelope me with protection. But there is so much more. So many greater, more meaningful things. My family is intact and we love deeply. We are genuine friends that respect each other. And we are safe under one roof in a home filled with compassion, kindness and big human, as well as furry canine and feline, hearts. Most importantly, we are healthy at this moment and embracing our health and that good fortune of having a roof over our heads, the beauty of our life’s work surrounding us and a well stocked pantry. Life is good.
Simply put, the smallest experiment of my belief that ones life is all about love and the relationships you make as you navigate your path through the years, came true for me. I expected nothing and received much. Not in the way most expect, but through words and gentle expressions of kindness. Through the loving remembrances of friends. Tales of love and connection. A blanket to keep me warm. Food to feed my soul. Some bubbly to savor the moment. Flowers to connect me to the beauty of our earth. Hugs. Kisses. Laughter. Appreciation. And most important of all, gratitude to the universe for allowing me to have another birthday. To feel that kind of love and to tell others how much their love and remembrance meant to me.
Thank you to all of you who made this day exactly the way I had hoped it would be. All of you. Those who surround me here in the city, those who live in my Ida-home, those scattered around the world – you have all touched my life in ways I cherish. You are all a part of my life’s story book and have decorated those pages with brilliant colors and words; you validate the ever so small contribution I have made in your life that you hold dear by remembering me. And that is the ultimate gift. To be remembered for goodness. I do love and care for you all and thank you so much for making this the happiest birthday ever.
Each birthday to come is an incredible gift. But life offers no guarantee so I will live with great joy in this moment. Thank you for loving me. How lucky am I?