I’ve always hated birthdays even before I turned 18. Shy kids generally don’t like being the center of attention and birthdays are especially harsh for someone whose face turns beet red just saying her name. I had a surprise birthday party at maybe age 6 and I cried. The whole time. I have pictures. Adults thought it was cute. I was mortified. (See, I had issues way before the stroke)! I don’t know if there is a reason why I was shy, yet thankfully, it didn’t grip me in enough fear that it paralyzed me as I still was able to play ball, be in front line as a cheerleader (I was one of the short ones), be the caption and do princess pageants as they were called back in the day.
But make no mistake- I was shy. With a smile on my face at all times.
So my Senior year, my 18th birthday, I got 4 more reasons to hate my birthday. Four Senior classmates, friends, co-worker, fellow cheerleader were in a horrible fatal car accident. A fifth senior from another school was also killed in this accident. This was just weeks away from Prom and months away from High School Graduation. I hated it. For all of us. For our Class of 1987.
So young, so invincible. We were just starting the “rest of our lives “. I already had so much mental anguish going on. I had an eating disorder, I thought I was fat and ugly, I hated myself. Losing these beautiful young girls made no sense. It was something horrible and ugly that bonded our class for eternity. If I thought I hated birthdays before, I really hated them now!
⬇️ me: fat and ugly. Unworthy.⬇️
2 months later I’m April I lost another good friend from my catholic school days in a boating accident just one month from his graduation.
So I carried this “non-importance” into my own family. Yes, when the kids were little I did all the big parties- petting zoo, bounce houses, trains, slot car race track, etc….but as they got older I didn’t make it a big deal. We go out for dinner- no presents- hurry home for chores and bed. Just another day. And trust me, I felt guilty. On the upside, my kids don’t have a feeling of entitlement. They know not to expect certain big items at milestone ages. But if we were to do something, it is a nice unexpected surprise. A gift not an expectation.
I didn’t especially want to bring attention to my birthday. It has never been about “another year older” or another wrinkle, or more pounds. I actually enjoy the journey of growing older. I just didn’t want to deal or be reminded of a very sad event that happened on my birthday. How could I celebrate knowing 5 lives were lost on that day to never experience graduation, college, marriage or children. Why celebrate when their families are having a hard time dealing with the anniversary death of their loved one. My birthday- it was not a big deal. Not compared to the reality I knew that was going on around me.
Now today- at 49, a year post stroke – And a year from almost dying, I see birthdays totally different! Life is a gift. It is an important and gracious gift to celebrate the day we were born and took our first breath. It was the start of a beautiful life journey. The miracle of pregnancy and childbirth is such an amazing experience – so the birthday itself should indeed be celebrated. Most funerals use the words “A celebration of life” and that starts with the day of your birth. I’ve heard often “we are not human beings having a spiritual experience: we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Interpret that however we please but it’s the journey of experience that become our blessings. Yes, life is indeed a gift. And one not to be taken for granted. Like the shock of 5 senior girls dying in one instant moment. Or the tragedy of the most recent school shootings in Parkland. Life also sometimes sucks. It’s part of the journey that makes us stronger, better, more compassionate, and changed. We can share our darkest hours knowing we have survived – but not necessarily unscathed – to help others on their journey. And that’s part of our celebration of life.
When we share, we give.
When we give, we receive.
When we receive, we love.
And when we love, it is well. We are doing exactly what God wants us to do: Love one another just as He has loved us.
So I decided life was too short not to celebrate my birthday. It’s always appreciated, but especially this year, all your birthday wishes were warmly received, welcomed, and treasured in my heart forever. Thank you for giving of your time. Sometimes it’s the simple things that really matter.
I pray you receive back abundantly!
So with said, I may just throw myself a huge 50th birthday party next year to make up for all my bah-hum-bug birthdays. Who knows…. maybe I’ll throw in a surprise or two. Hopefully I won’t cry!!! Lol
Now I’m panicked no one will come! Like this blog if you want to celebrate my 50th next year! I plan on being happy and in love itch life…it will be grand!!!!
So….Happy birthday to me! And happy birthday to you!!! And I will celebrate it everyday for the rest of my days. And there is no better way to honor my friends who passed on from this human experience way too soon.