Friday was my 37th birthday.
I awoke to showers of affection and gifts from my husband and children. Obviously, they were far more excited about the day than I. (Once you’ve passed your milestone birthdays like 16=driver’s license and 18=legal drinking age in my province, what’s one more year, right?) But I really do love their enthusiasm.
So, I opened my birthday gifts they were so excited to give me. I finally got the foam roller I’ve been asking for, and that I hope will ease my sore muscles after long runs and strenuous workouts. (Score.) I got a 10-class pass to Sculpt Barre. (Shaky, yet amazingly toned legs, here I come!) And, last but certainly not least, I got a beautiful, shiny, new Macbook Air! (We hit it off instantly and I just know we’re going to be the best of friends.)
It was an absolutely gorgeous late summer day, throughout which I was lucky to receive numerous calls, texts, Facebook posts, and tweets with well wishes from friends and loved ones. I even got to spend some time visiting with my parents, grandma, aunts, uncles, and many other relatives.
The paradox of my birthday this year is that I spent much of the day at a funeral. My big, fat extended family of mixed-European descent gathered to celebrate the life of a wonderful woman who will be dearly missed by all who knew her and whose lives she touched. It was a beautiful service befitting the kind and generous woman in whose honour it was held.
As I sat listening to the priest relay several stories about how she chose to live her life, I realized something very important. We don’t always get what we want in life. I’m fairly certain this is so we will appreciate the gifts we are given. Life isn’t always happy; for it is through the bitter times that we learn to appreciate the sweetest moments.
While attending a funeral wasn’t my first choice of how to spend my birthday, in retrospect I’m actually kind of glad it worked out that way. It gave me some much-needed perspective. The sharp contrast of celebrating the day of my birth set against the backdrop of honouring the passing of another person’s life gave me the most unique opportunity to appreciate the natural order that is beyond our control. All at once, the strange mystery and beauty of the circle of life made sense, and the intensity of the emotions that accompanied my revelation left me momentarily breathless.
The experience reminded me that I must be grateful for all of life’s moments; both the bitter and the sweet. It shifted my perspective from one of “do I really have to do this TODAY?” to “I am blessed beyond measure, and it’s always a beautiful day to be alive.”