Today is my 48th birthday. That number gets noticed in my family. And not in a good way.
In some ways, it has taken on a somewhat dark significance. Mother died suddenly at the age 48. She appeared healthy, but there was a silent aneurysm that ruptured and killed her. Four other family members also died at this age--two from very similar causes. The doctors agreed that her siblings, my brother and sister and I, and our cousins should all get tested for signs of a same condition. We all have done this.
Mother was the oldest of 6 kids. The remaining five all passed their 49th birthday with much celebration.
I am the oldest of my generation, and of course, my mother's daughter. There is a certain oddness of "catching up" to her. I would be completely lying if I said that this birthday has arrived without significant thoughts. Some of those thoughts have been a bit dark--particularly during the worst days of my depression. I remember thinking at times that I might not even make it this far. I had a cardiac scare about 2 years ago and spent two nights in the hospital being poked, prodded, and tested. I passed everything with flying colors.
However, the past few months, I have come to view this day and all the days that follow as an opportunity. I have the gift of time. Perhaps it is premature to think that I will live longer than Mother did. I still have a couple of months before I actually "pass" her. My hospice work shows me every day that nothing can be taken for granted.
What I do know is this: I have today. I am committed to seeing this Number 48 as an opportunity rather than a dark cloud. I will not squander my days.
I will appreciate the moments.
I will live and love and laugh.
I will seek the things that bring me joy.
I will do all I can to enjoy every single thing.
I will act foolishly without fear of what others think.
I will enjoy music, art and other things that move me.
I will continue to be the weird aunt/cousin/friend.
I will let the people in my life know how much they mean to me. Old friends, family, new friends, and friends I have yet to meet.
I will dance in the rain.
I will love unconditionally--even if it hurts sometimes.
I will put my heart and soul into my work and be ever so grateful that I have found the work that I am supposed to do.
I will keep an eye out for and relish every chance I have to be joyous and to bring joy to others.
I believe that I do these things now, but I am committed to being ever so much more purposeful in doing them going forward. I do this because it is right. I will do this to honor my wonderful, creative, beautiful and crazy Mother.