It's funny that this birthday has been bothering me. I passed my other "milestone" birthdays with nary a second thought. My 30th never troubled me at all, and in fact seemed far more bothersome to a friend of my sister's who has known me since I was about ten. He met my sister and I for brunch on my 30th birthday and when I told him my age I could see him visibly blanch at the sudden realization of how old that made him (and now, dear friends, I realize that I am older than he was that day). My 40th birthday was equally unworrisome. Just a number and all that, right?
So, why my problem with this number? I'm not sure, really. I suppose it's because so much has changed in the 5 years since my last milestone birthday. I've lost both my parents now, and I've also lost some baggage I'd carried for years (about 60 pounds of excess baggage, in fact). I've changed in some ways, and in some ways rediscovered parts of myself that had long gone missing. I've been on a journey of discovery these past five years, and suddenly my age seemed to matter when it never had before.
It had gotten so bad, dear friends, that I was considering Botox for some annoying little facial lines that appeared after my mother's death and the subsequent very dark days that followed (when my face was in a perpetual frown, thus ingraining those little lines forever, it seems). I was wavering on the edge of that decision when my husband pointed out that he didn't think it was necessary, and that he thought I was as beautiful as I was some 25 years ago when we met. That declaration made me decide against Botox (well, that and a fear of needles, too).
I've come to some realizations, dear friends. I have opened myself up more to life, and perhaps that is why this number was bothering me. I began to see how brief life is, and how easy it is to be consumed by life and yet forget to truly "live". I began to try to embrace life more fully, with more enthusiasm and more passion. I discovered there is risk in living that way - there have been times I have opened my heart when it should have remained closed (and times when I suspect the same is true of my mouth, too). I don't regret those times, though, as I learned something from them. There are a few things I regret, like the party in February where I drank so much I called three people by the wrong name, introduced myself to two people I already know, and had a 3-day hangover so brutal I couldn't function. That was a learning experience, too (mainly about not trusting Kiwi bartenders who feed you, and themselves, repeated shots at the end of the night).
Along with all the things I have gained these past five years there are the things I have kept. I have a sweet husband who loves me far more than he should, and probably more than I would if I were him (this may come as a surprise, but I am not always an easy person to love). I have a daughter who loves me, and whom I adore completely (frankly, I think she will set the world on fire, as she has already done to mine). I have friends I can trust and who trust me, and who support and encourage me. Even more than that they laugh with me and keep me sane (and some partake in my shenanigans, which is even better). I have my sisters and their families, and I feel closer to them than I ever have before. We drew even closer together after my mother's death, and they were there when I needed them most.
My birthday this year is spectacular, dear friends. I am having supper tonight with a Canadian celebrity, a birthday gift arranged by my husband (and one about which I will certainly write!). Tomorrow night I am meeting local friends for a night at the Irish pub in town. I cannot wait as this will be a birthday to remember, I am sure. This follows hard on the heels of a holiday I'll never forget, and five years of growth and change.
In the past couple of days the number 45 has stopped bothering me. I suppose I've started to think that perhaps the best is just yet to come. I have enjoyed 45 years on this planet, some difficult but most absolutely amazing, and the last few perhaps the most amazing of all. This morning I went to the gym and on the elliptical when it asked for my weight and age I punched in the number "45" - and you know what, dear friends? It felt just fine. In fact, it felt pretty damn good.
(Click below link to see a lovely video!)
Cat Stevens "Oh Very Young"
Cat Stevens "Oh Very Young"