I can’t believe another birthday snuck up on me. Okay, snuck up is totally the wrong term -- leapt out from hiding and pounced on me is a more accurate description! What happened to shift the passage of time that now makes birthdays and new years come at you at lightening speed, when it used to be that, as a kid, time absolutely stood still when you were expecting a special day like a birthday?
Anyway, last Monday, I turned 45, and I couldn’t be happier! It wasn’t because I got the greatest birthday present I could ask for (the cast on my broken leg came off that day -- woo hoo!) -- although that didn’t do anything to hurt my mood, either -- it’s because for me, even more so than most, being here to celebrate another year is truly a blessing of the highest order.
You see, I never expected to live this long.
When I was 14, I was diagnosed with a kind of cancer that kills 95 percent of the people who get it within five years of diagnosis. With those kinds of odds, I really never expected to live past 30, let alone make it into my mid 40’s. But I did!
I’m here, and even though my body feels like it’s 145 instead of 45, and my brain feels like I’m still 25, I AM HERE! Every day that I can still say that is truly a gift of bonus time, to be savored like rich chocolate, and to never be taken for granted.
In many ways, getting that diagnosis was a gift. It taught me early on that life is too short to be taken for granted -- every bit of it needs to be feasted upon instead of allowed to pass by, un-tasted. Very few people are able reach that realization before it’s almost too late to do them any good. But I was lucky, I learned it early, and have done all I can to practice it every minute of every day.
And on my birthday, I savored it all! After getting the cast off, the HipHubby and I went out to play and enjoy our time together. We headed over to the Casino to collect my complementary birthday T-shirt and rack up some of the double reward points offered for gambling on your special day. The gods of good fortune must have been on alert that we were coming -- they sent us home with $100 more than we started out with. While the money was a nice surprise, it wasn’t what made the night a winner -- we had a wonderful time just being together, laughing and sharing our experiences, and that is, by far, the most valuable prize we take away from any casino visit.
When we were done playing, we enjoyed dinner on the beach at night, listening to the waves lap on the shore and watching the stars come out. After dinner, it was a scenic drive along the shore and under the night stars back to the house, where I savored my first shower without the cast, then slipped into a bed made up with crisp, clean, ultra soft sheets. I can’t imagine the better birthday than that.
And that, my friends, was a perfect celebration of my special day. But the real gift to me is not the activities in which we engaged, although I am so very grateful that we have the resources and stamina to do them. My gift was, and is, the time that I have been given here. No matter how trying life can get, no matter how draining and frustrating my medical conditions can be, I AM HERE with the people and animals I love. Good days or bad days, it’s all bonus time, and I cherish every minute that I have.