There are several birthdays coming up among our family members and friends, including some milestone ones. A good friend of mine is turning forty this month and I will be fifty in June.
David and I attended his uncle's funeral on Sunday. And my neighbor (one I haven't seen in a while) just told me her daughter passed away in December at the age of 52.
All of that has made me think about growing older and it's alternative.
Turning thirty was weird. It was a number that just didn't feel like who I was. And forty? Ha! Forty implied a wisdom and maturity that I did not possess. I felt like an impostor. Like someone was going to check my Grownup Card any minute and find out it was a forgery. Both numbers also brought a kind of horrified fascination - "I'm HOW old?"
Fifty, however, ushers in a whole new kind of feeling. Joyousness. Delight. Gratitude. It's a fullness. A sense of ... not completion, but satisfaction in a job relatively well done thus far. Sure, I have made mistakes. Big, hairy, ugly ones. I have not been the person I would like to have been. And at times I have enjoyed the sins I have committed, yes I have. But... I'm still here, hopefully becoming a better person every day, and enjoying the treasures I have stored up along the way.
I have raised a child to adulthood; one who seems to be to be pretty normal, given that she has inherited my sense of humor and love of sarcasm and chocolate. One who doesn't hate me or blame me for any psychological damage I may have inadvertently caused her through my ignorance or ineptitude. In fact, I rather think she likes me. I like her too.
I have friends. Ones that I can discuss anything with; ones that I say "I love you" to, and they say it back. Frequently. And we mean it. And we unashamedly hug and kiss each other pretty much every time we meet and get great joy from it. I can literally feel the love radiating from these women. I hope they feel it too. They know my moods, put up with my quirks (like my hatred of the telephone and my crankiness) and still want to spend time with me. If I ask them "Do I look fat in this?" they will tell me the truth, because they honestly do not want to see me going somewhere looking fat. Over the past year, they have forced me to open up and talk when I thought I wanted to keep things to myself. And it has been good for me. It has reminded me that it's okay to lean on other people sometimes. It feels good. To the leaner and the lean-ee. (I know... that's not a word.)
I have a husband. An amazing, wonderful husband of nearly thirteen years. How could I possibly be unhappy about getting older when each day I grow older is another day that I get to spend with him?
Life is an amazing gift from God, and birthdays are an annual celebration of that gift. Come June, I intend to rip the paper off that gift with abandon and fling it in the air, thanking God for one more year. Go do some celebrating of your own. Life is short. Enjoy.