Today I turn fifty-five.
Not old (not yet!) but hardly young.
My body sometimes tells me I’m older than dirt while my mind plays tricks and lures me into all kinds of childish pursuits.
Mornings I creak down the stairs, holding tightly to the handrail lest I step wrong and end up in a tumble at the bottom
Midday I’m out in the woods picking up interesting bits of nature that I bring inside and set on a shelf-I still ooh and aah over empty cicada shells and help stranded earthworms back into moist soil.
Mostly I kind of plod through time taking it moment by moment except when forced to look ahead and plan for the big things like (yay!) a wedding (my daughter!) and a grandchild (my son!).
But some days I stop and take stock of the years gone by, the things I’ve done or not done and the things I wish were different.
Birthdays tend to make me do that. And since my birthday always falls near Thanksgiving, I usually add a list of things for which I’m grateful.
I will always be glad that I chose to pour my life into my family. All grown, we still weave our lives together across the miles and in spite of crazy schedules. I have never regretted for a single moment that the one great achievement that will outlive me is my children.
Except for the one I have outlived. And that is my heart’s greatest burden.
I am so thankful for a husband who has graciously provided for our family. I never wrangled a moment over grocery money or necessary homeschooling supplies. That is a gift! (And for his unending support for my crazy livestock lifestyle-here’s this year’s birthday present.)
I have the great privilege of the ongoing companionship of my own parents. We talk every. single. day. even though we are miles apart. These last months of health struggles and Hurricane Michael destruction have forged new links in the chain of love and compassion that bind us to one another.
I have a close circle of “I’ll come over in the middle of the night if you need me” friends. I remember being on the outside looking in for most of my high school years wondering if I would ever have a really, truly best friend. In these years since Dominic ran ahead, God has given me one of the desires of my heart and blessed me with just that kind of friendship.
I have a broader circle of parents that understand what it’s like to send a child ahead to Heaven. They are a safe place to offload comments and questions that the rest of the world would neither appreciate nor comprehend. So many have touched my heart with the right word at the right time. I am overwhelmed by the compassion, grace and kindness of this community.
I write. It helps my heart. And the truly amazing and surprising thing is it seems to help a few other hearts too. I am so thankful that three years ago I followed a prompting to compose that first timid and intimidating post. Now I can’t imagine a morning where I don’t get up in the wee hours to peck away at the keyboard.
Five years ago I celebrated my fiftieth birthday with all my children, my husband, parents and a crowd of friends.
Tonight the celebration will be a little quieter but very precious.
My fiftieth year was to be a jubilee of sorts-a culmination of so many dreams in our family and in my own life.
Instead it was the year we buried Dominic, in addition to the beautiful things we looked forward to.
I’ve stopped making predictions about what a year will bring. But I haven’t stopped looking forward to the good things I know are on the horizon.
This year our family will grow again and that is a great blessing.
So I wake and watch and wait.
Happy Birthday to Me!