I don’t remember which dark day occurred first last year: the day my former spouse was taken in to custody or the day I turned 42. In some ways, difficult days had become a blur, they occurred all too often in my life last year!
So about my birthday.
“Well, birthdays are merely symbolic of how another year has gone by and how little we’ve grown. No matter how desperate we are that someday a better self will emerge, with each flicker of the candles on the cake, we know it’s not to be, that for the rest of our sad, wretched pathetic lives, this is who we are to the bitter end. Inevitably, irrevocably; happy birthday? No such thing.” (Jerry Seinfeld)
In some ways, that was my birthday last year.
August 25, 2009, wasn’t a fun day to turn 42 years old and face my life for what it was! It certainly wasn’t where I had envisioned myself being by that age. Talk about feeling like a loser.
All I could think of was that I had very little of what I had ever wanted or dreamed of. My marriage had failed. I was overwhelmed with all kinds of legal pressures, financial pressures, work pressures, and life pressures. I had always thought I’d “be” someone or someplace or somewhere in life by that age. Instead, I was starting over. Wait. Make that starting from well behind the “start line” compared to most people my age! I was still trying to claw my way out of the dark abyss I had been knocked into by the choices of another.
If I’ve ever had a birthday I would like to have skipped or forgotten, it was my birthday last year.
I worked all day and told no one it was my birthday. I certainly didn’t want to face it, much less celebrate it! I wanted to forget it. But I couldn’t. To me, it was an anniversary of my failures. I probably cried in the bathroom at work that day and for sure cried on the drive home.
I arrived home to find my children ready to celebrate my birthday. They had set the table, cooked dinner, and had somehow scraped together some funds to buy me a gift. They had all secretly gone to the mall to purchase it together–all of them. (Anyone who has ever taken my youngest shopping knows what a labor of love that effort, in itself, was!) They were glowing with anticipation and delight at celebrating a year in my life with me.
While I had tried so hard to forget that day, they had gone all out to remember it.
And they weren’t the only ones. A friend sent me flowers. A friend had her college-age daughter deliver a birthday cake to me. A friend took me to lunch. Friends called. Friends sent gifts. My children looked at me with delight and made a fuss over me. And I had a job and a roof over my head.
Hadn’t I said all along if I could just have a job and a roof over my head, I could handle everything else? Alone or not, 42 or not, that was still the truth. I had everything I needed. And it wasn’t over.
“Whatever with the past has gone, the best is always yet to come.” (Anonymous) I just had no idea, at the time, how true that statement by an unknown person would turn out to be for me, in my own life.
“Sooner or later we all discover that the important moments in life are not the advertised ones, not the birthdays…not the great goals achieved. The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door…unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.” (Susan B. Anthony) And what we do with them.
It is absolutely what we do with our moments, THE moments we’ve been given, that matters. The challenge is to bloom and blossom like a rose, instead of close up or become bitter like a cabbage.
Roses versus cabbage? Do I even have to think about it? Does anyone?