… fun? …horrible? …looked forward to? …dreaded? It seems that the word “birthday” brings up a wide range of emotions, depending on who you’re looking at when the subject comes up. And usually the younger the person the more their face shows excitement, and the older the person the more their eyes roll and they look like they’d like to avoid them altogether.
Well… today I leave my 20’s behind. That feels really weird saying that, as I never really felt like I was in my 20’s! When I was young, I had this idea of what it would be like to be 16… then my 16th birthday came and I was unimpressed. LOL! So I thought I knew what it would feel like to be in my 20’s. But most of the way through my 20’s, I felt no different than I had at 18… even though I was married with kids. I remember thinking on my 26th or 27th birthday that I finally felt like I was over 20! So today I turn 30 and it means absolutely nothing to me. I still run around with my kids, I can still do cartwheels and roundoffs and handstands, I can turn flips on the trampoline, I can still sprint pretty well, and I’d still love to have a chance to do backflips off a diving board… I guess I’m still a kid at heart.
I told my husband this morning that if I had any expectations at all of being 30, it was that I’d definitely be grown up by then. He laughed and said, “So do you feel grown up, Mommy?” (Emphasizing this, of course, because I’ve been a mommy for almost a decade already.)
But I guess I do finally feel grown up. I’ve changed a lot this past year since Mom died. I don’t know how much it has to do with losing her, how much it has to do with leaving my 20’s behind, how much it has to do with passing our 10th wedding anniversary, or if it’s just where I’m at in my life. I find that I expect to be treated as an adult now. Maybe it’s funny that it took until after I was 29 to really expect that, but I’ve always looked young for my age. It hasn’t been a year yet since the last time someone asked me if I was out of high school yet. LOL
But enough about me. What I really got on here to share was something about birthdays that I learned from my mom in the days after she died. You see… my mom was a miracle baby. (You can read her whole story on her site if you’re interested. I modified it slightly when she died, but it’s still up and running.) The fact that she wasn’t expected to live at all… and then live to be a teenager… and then live past her 20’s… well, it gave her an appreciation for life that most of us don’t have. When she turned 50, she got up on stage at church to tell the 1000+ members that she’d turned 50, and then she went home and threw her own party! She did this because she saw every birthday as the perfect opportunity to celebrate the fact that God had given her another year of life.
She died on September 10th, last fall… five days before she would have turned 53 years old. Usually memorial services are held 3 or 4 days after death, but the way things worked out, her memorial service ended up being planned for her birthday. So many people, when they heard this, thought “ouch” on our behalf… you could see it in their eyes. But in those few days, I realized the significance of what Mom always knew about birthdays… that is, the alternative is death. Death seems so far away from most of us, yet the reality is that none of us know how many times each day that God protects us from the devil’s attempts on our life. Every day that we get in a car and reach home safely, God has protected us. Every second that our heart keeps beating is a gift from God.
My mom didn’t get to celebrate her 53rd birthday. That birthday was the first one she’d missed. But we celebrated for her. We believe that a memorial service for someone who has left earth for heaven should be a celebration, and knowing Mom, if she could have picked a day for us to celebrate her life, she would have picked her birthday. That’s what birthdays were for, to her.
So I decided then… and today I’m re-affirming… that I will never dread a birthday. Each year that I turn a year older, I will thank God for what He has blessed me with so far. I will look forward to the next year and whatever plans God has for it. And I will thank Him on behalf of my family that they have not yet had to learn how to live life without me… because I sure wish that my mom could have celebrated a few more of hers.