I am only hours away from another birthday. I will have survived another year, grown another year and am grateful for the year that has passed. I normally don’t really think about birthdays too much as they come and go. I’ve never been one to think much about my age. There have been times in my life when I felt older than I am, but most days I don’t worry about age much. I’m not good at guessing people’s ages and most times can only come up with a decade I think they might belong in. Since the birth of my kiddos, I measure time more by their birthdays than by my own. All that said – this year feels different. This year, I turn the age my husband was when he died.
Again, I don’t really think of this stuff very much, but the other day it occurred to me that I was going to be the age he was when he found out he was sick and when he died. I’ve been rolling thoughts around in my head wondering how I would feel if at this age, I was told that this was it. How would I feel if I knew my end was imminent and near? What would I do with all the things I was planning to do with my life, all the loose, unfinished things? What would I change? Are there things that I would do differently?
These thoughts have led to further reflection on who I am becoming. I am changing everyday. There were days after he died when I wanted to die and didn’t know how I would survive him leaving. Those days passed but the struggle to choose hope continued everyday. The struggle to choose gratitude each day was difficult and can still be very difficult at times. I didn’t choose him to only loose him part way into the life we planned. I chose him with love, for love and through love….and surprisingly enough – I find that love doesn’t leave. It stays in your heart even when you don’t see someone for six years. Love is an amazing thing and I am grateful to have experienced it the way I did with him. All of this is very difficult and very hopeful all at the same time.
As this birthday approaches I’m thinking of things about me that I’d like to change or maybe just reintroduce to myself. There are parts of me that left when he died. There are parts of me that I have sacrificed for my children. If the doctor told me today that this was it, there are things that I definitely want to happen. So as this birthday approaches I am planning to put a little more me back into my life. It can be so hard to care for yourself when the well being of everyone else depends on you. It’s hard for me at least. I know in my head that it is important for me to care for myself…because really right now, and since his death there isn’t anyone else who will take care of me. I need to make sure I laugh each day, eat more veggies than chocolate, get some exercise, enjoy at least one thing and breathe. Only I can do this for myself. Sure, it will take me asking for help sometimes, but I am learning that skill too.
I can’t imagine being told that there is an expiration date on my life. I remember Dave talking about that. I can’t imagine the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical struggle that entails. I have his example of grace and strength to draw on, but really I can’t wrap my head around it. The truth is that we only have this moment for sure. Some of us may have time to consider these things and some of us won’t. Part of my journey toward healing includes this odd gift…I really consider mortality sometimes. I know that life can be cut short. I think with this knowledge comes great responsibility though…knowing this, how will I spend my time? How will the people around me know that I love them and can’t do without them? How will I bring joy into my life each day? I am grateful to know these things and have this awareness. It is not an easy path, but it has been blessed. It is not an easy path and I wouldn’t have chosen it. It is not an easy path, but it is my path and I promise myself that I will do my best each day. I will choose to be happy, joyful and grateful every time that I am able. I will choose love even when there is a risk of heartache and loss. It is definitely my path toward healing and hopefully toward a ripe old age and fondly remembered life lived.