Birthdays. We celebrate them, we avoid them, we call them “just another day,” we make surprise parties for others over them. We gush over birthday cards and make grand wish lists. We are gaga over birthdays.
Gaga, that is, until we reach “that certain age” and birthdays are no longer birthdays, but rather, anniversaries of some long ago former birthday. For instance, today is the umpteenth anniversary of my 29th birthday!
Happy birthday to meeee.
But now that the day is nearly over and I’ve received a beautiful outpouring of well wishes from friends and family … after the birthday dinner is consumed and the party is over … now is the time to get down to the real deal of birthdays.
The celebration of the day of one’s birth is a magical moment. As kids, we can’t wait for our birthday to get here. We measure our years in quarters and halfs. I’m five and a quarter. Twelve and a half. We can’t wait to mark our milestones. Our first day of kindergarten. Graduation to Junior High. That first day of high school or college. Our first kiss. Our first baby. Each year brings celebration and momentous occasions.
Then come the middle years when we note other landmarks. The graduations from this or that of our own children. Their firsts. Their milestones. Their announcements of precipitous events. We mark it all through our years of birthdays.
And for me? I’m the luckiest person alive! I have TWO birthdays each year. One — the one I celebrate today — of what some might call the natal birthday. The other birthday I celebrate is the day a very large brain tumor was pulled from the grasp of my brain. That occasion makes me now sixteen and a half years old.
I’m so lucky to have two such birthdays. One date — today — marks the commencement of my wisdom years. The years when I shall wear purple, as the poem says, and I can embrace every wrinkle and gray hair as well-earned and perfectly placed. The second birthday — July 6 — was the day a doctor gave me a SECOND life.
How wonderful is that?
My cake today might need a fire extinguisher at the ready, but the whole darned thing makes me smile. I’m alive. I’m present today. I’m still the high-schooler with her hand raised to give the answer. I’m still the young bride, scared to death, but excited for a surprising future. I’m still a young mom trying to figure out how to juggle babies and budgets. I’m still that mother proud of how her children grew to be grand people in spite of all her mistakes and regrettable moments. I’m still that woman.
I’m still that woman.
Only today, I’m a teensy bit older than I was yesterday.
Thank you all for your good wishes. I hope you’ll enjoy my purple years as much as I intend to relish in them. Oh, and one more thing … if you should need me, I’ll be the one in the gym working off all those birthday cakes I get every year.