Friday, August 22, 2014

Another Year

I remember being told growing up that birthdays weren't the same when you're an adult. There aren't the celebrations, the large gift exchanges, the cake with candles to blow out. And as I've aged, I've come to understand this truth, and birthdays have become mere reminders of how much time has gone by, so fast you can almost feel it blow like wind through your hair with a W O O S H.

With my birthday looming in just a few days, I have been anticipating it with the same adult perspective I have for at least fifteen or sixteen years. I don't want a party or a cake. I told my mom that I would be happy to ignore the day all together, especially since we'll be heading on vacation just a few days later. But tonight I started to think about it, and my opinion has started to change.

Just weeks before my 37th birthday last year, I underwent a surgery that led to sepsis, so I had emergency surgery the next day. I lived through almost a week in the surgical ICU and another five days on a normal surgical floor. I spent almost two weeks in a rehab hospital until my body was strong enough to go home. Close friends made a birthday evening for my mom and I and another friend. I received several meaningful gifts. Being home was the greatest one.

I spent six repulsive and challenging months with a dysfunctional colostomy (the surgeon even called it that.) I felt imprisoned by it. I felt awkward and petrified to leave the house. There were days when mere movement created incomprehensible issues. The experience was humiliating and horrible. I couldn't wait to have it reversed. By the grace of God, my surgeon was able to do that without issue the end of January.

Since then, my wounds have healed. My mom and I spent a blissful ten days in Florida. It was amazing to feel the sand between my toes and hear the surf as it crashed on the shore. Because of the amazing salt air, I was able to go almost the entire vacation without wearing my oxygen. My lungs felt clean and strong!

Since then, I've been blessed with time spent with my precious nephews. I discovered that I enjoyed writing a blog, and my 9-year old chocolate lab Zoe is usually at my feet as I do it. My mom and I are going to Colorado the end of the month to reunite with her brother Rusty's family. We're taking my nephew with us, and it will be his first airplane ride. He's going to be reunited with his cousin Ella, and we ALL get to meet her new sister Olivia. I can't wait for this getaway, especially to see the expressions on my nephew's face as he experiences all the new adventures.

As I think about all this, about all of my triumphs and blessings, I realize that I have a LOT to celebrate this year. God has blessed me with so much! Time has W O O S H E D and W O O S H E D and                   W O O S H E D some more as I've undergone and overcome all these struggles. And as I've enjoyed all my blessings, it has W O O S H E D even more. All  these things have passed me by so quickly, it would be easy just to go on living without slowing down long enough to acknowledge them.

Being a grown up and not wanting a birthday celebration shouldn't be a reason to pass up the opportunity to celebrate and show gratitude for another year of life, especially because it's a year I almost lost. I could easily be watching my birthday from the other side, and I am grateful to be alive, truly alive. I don't need a party or cake or especially any gifts because I already have the GREATEST gift ever, and that is this life. This challenging, beautiful, humorous, inspiring, exasperating, blessed, and amazing life. I have to put the break on the W O O S H  lest these years and their gifts pass me by. Nothing sounds better than a party for two, just God and I, celebrating my birthday this week and our partnership of love.