My Grandfather on my Mother’s side died at the age of 47.
My Mother died at the age of 47.
My Sister died at the age of 47.
My Father died this past July when I was 47 years old.
In 8 hours and 43 minutes, I will turn 48 years old. When I lived in Chicago, I use to visit my Mom’s gravesite on my birthday carrying a balloon with the message of “It’s a Girl!” After my Mom died, sometimes my family forgot my birthday. That’s when I found comfort in not forgetting my Mom. Sitting next to her gravesite one year, among the golden and pink hues of fall sunset, I realized that my birthday isn’t just about me. Pausing to count my blessings and taking stock of all those that I appreciated and was grateful for, helped fill the void and added such life to those years.
Turning 48 is not something I take for granted. It’s a weight I have carried for years from a trauma hidden in the folds of life that first took root when my Mom passed. It’s the whisper right before you blow our your candles to inhale that invites Miss Anxiety to your birthday party. It’s the grace that glides on blistered feet. When you’re a child that experiences such, especially during your formative years, you don’t comprehend the enthusiastic rally calls from adults that comment about your resilience. What you may call resilient, I lived as trying to just get by. Trying to make some sense out of what was happening. Trying to understand the why and what happens next. Independence and responsibility came early in life, not exactly by choice.
When you’re a child that experiences such, you don’t associate the description of resilient with your song book. It’s the crowd that hushes back at you with phrases lost in time- as with most well intentions. You learn to create your own playlist for life.
Every layer of life that has brought me to this present and accounted for moment is a celebration. I refuse to make any attempt to mask my laugh lines. I’ve learned in my 48 years that in the tedious process of peeling back layers in search of growth to be your authentic self, well, it ebbs and flows.
On one of my walks before my birthday this year, I came across the most beautiful fall foliage. It was the reminder I needed that letting go of what you no longer need (or serves you) is a beautiful thing. In turn you make room for so much more love, peace and happiness and growth– all the ingredients that matter when trying to live with intention. By the love from my husband, joy my children lift my heart with and daily miracles I remain open to, at 48 I remain beautifully unfinished with much room to grow. Exhale. I see you 49.