This morning, during and after meditation class, I was thinking about my husband’s birthday this week. Despite still being under COVID restrictions, I managed to take him to lunch (our first time out to eat together since March), to the beach and for a nice drive, to get away for a while. Then we came home and I did something I never had done before. I used his pellet grill to make him surf and turf for dinner. He got phone calls, video chats from our daughters and other family and friends, and a quick, socially distanced visit from our youngest daughter and her boyfriend. All-in-all, I think he had a good birthday.
Birthdays were something I always cherished. I remember, despite a lot of my childhood being filled with fear and angst, my mom used to try to make a point to make my birthday matter. I can still remember my very first birthday party with classmates at McDonald’s, when I turned 6. I remember some of my favorite gifts: a ceramic bunny, a water/hoop game, SpeakNSpell, Barbie dolls. I remember going ice skating once. I remember going to dinner with boyfriends over the years, and dinners with my husband. Each year, for my kids, I used to make them their favorite dinner and dessert. We went away from that when they got older, as they wanted to start new traditions. Yet, I find myself yearning for those birthday dinners these days. I hope those dinners are among my daughters’ favorite birthday memories. I remember having a cake fight at my grandson Drew’s birthday party one year, too. And a huge water balloon fight at my grandsons’ Eli and Jeb’s birthday party. Such fun!
For me, birthdays took on a greater significance when I was diagnosed with my first serious health condition at age 12. Seems I have been dealing with something all my life. I had no idea if I would overcome scoliosis. No idea if I would run again or if I would lose the ability to walk or something more serious. I came through it ok. Later in life I would be diagnosed with cancer. And while caught early, birthdays took on a strong purpose, for me. I celebrated my 28th birthday with my brother and friends, all the while no one knowing I was having surgery and starting treatment the following week. I didn’t celebrate my 29th birthday because depression set in. I didn’t celebrate much that year. When I turned 30, I took myself and my roommate out to the fanciest restaurant. I even ate escargot! I decided on my 30th birthday that from this moment on I would celebrate my birthday in some meaningful way, and make sure each of my children understood how precious their lives were, as we celebrated theirs each year, too.
While how we celebrate has changed, I meditate on their birthdays now, sending them love, light and health through the next year and honor the gratitude for being blessed by their lives. Same with my grandkids.
We are only given so many birthdays. Some people are given a spirit and are lost in utero and their families celebrate their short lives in special ways. Others may only get a few seconds of life and their families still celebrate their lives, too. Still, others may get many seconds of life (there are apx. 22,075,000 seconds in a long lifetime) and take each one for granted. Or, as sad as the reality is, life can end in a second, and this birthday could be the last. We never know how many birthdays we will have. So my advice is celebrate each one. Celebrate half birthdays, too. Live the life you deserve, and even if you have a birthday where you just do not feel like celebrating you, make a point to do a random act of kindness for someone else. It will lift your spirits and give new meaning to celebrating life every day. Heck, for that matter, treat each new day like a birthday. Why not?
Happy Birthday! <3