It has been a long while since I celebrated birthdays – they are really just one more day to me. And believe it or not, when I say that, I mean it. If it weren’t for friends and relatives sending cards or telling me “Happy Birthday” I’d probably forget what day it was just like any other.
Sure, I appreciate the thoughtful good wishes, who wouldn’t? But when it comes right down to it, on my birthday, I just want to do what I want when I want. I want to have a “me” day. And for several years now, my daughters have finally understood this, that the best gift they can give me is to say, “Happy Birthday, Mom” and “Joyeux Anniversaire, Maman” and then let me go on with my day, no fuss no muss.
I wonder how many other people secretly wish the same? 😉
In most ways, today is just another day. Mentally, I’ve been thinking of myself as being 60 since the beginning of the year. I often lose track. In fact, there were some years when I had to stop and think about my age to be sure. For example, all through my 58th year I kept thinking I was 59. And this year, knowing this was my 60th year, I’ve thought of myself as being 60 since the beginning of the year – so that’s another reason why I say birthdays really are just another day to me.
And yet… Sixty.
I’ve been thinnking about that this morning. How it’s supposed to be a milestone. I keep thinking that I’m supposed to shudder and gasp and say, “oh my I’m sixty!” and wail to the heavens about growing older.
But do you want to know what I really feel?
For those of you who haven’t seen my Life Adapted blog, let me tell you something awesome and amazing. When I was 15, the year of my 16th birthday, 1968, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Cancer of the lymph glands. Back then it was still considered incurable, though they did give me about a 40% chance of surviving 5 years. I guess I fooled them, huh? I finished my radiation treatments at the end of March, just in time to celebrate my 16th birthday. That was 44 years ago.
After cancer, the milestones weren’t birthdays, they were cancer milestones. Six months cancer free, one year cancer free, two years, then five years, then ten. And finally I stopped thinking about milestones altogether and just lived my life as if it never happened. Well, not exactly, of course, because it did happen and I think that is as much of what shaped my life as anything else. It’s probably the reason I learned to live in the moment, appreciate each day as unique and wonderful and special. A birthday is just another special unique day like all the others.
So, what else am I feeling on this everyday, special, unique day?
Awe. Awe that I have made it to this day. Wonder that I actually grew up, gave birth to two beautiful daughters who are now grown and making their way in the world. So many unexpected feelings are running through me this morning, joy, amazement, even a sense of pride that I made it this far along the road.
Above all, right now as I write this, I feel blessed. Blessed that, through all the ups and downs of my life, I have maintained focus on one thing: The fact that each and every day is a celebration of life.
Good, bad, happy, sad, such a wealth of emotions we go through and each one is unique to the moment, precious, to be lived and experienced and owned. I may occasionally need reminders of this, but I never completely lose sight of it, and if my awareness gets veiled by pain or complications, there are always friends and even strangers to pull the veil away and help me see clearly again.
So yes, I am sixty today, but more than that I am here, now, celebrating one more day of life.
And you know what?
So are you!
Have a wonderful day!