It’s funny that when I look back at all those blogs I did leading up to my 40th birthday I was really dreading the unknown of the big 4-0. Now, here I am only 3 years into my 40s and I feel as though I have lived a whole other 40 years in just those three. Just this past year alone we have lost a member of our family, friends have been through illnesses we never imagined would be hitting so close to home, families have been torn apart by breakups and divorce... the list just doesn’t end. Now, Jody is back to fighting his medical battles which means our whole family is being turned upside down again. The crap just never seems to end. It's these moments when I sometimes miss how things were before my 40th birthday.
But, I have also had the chance this last year to see amazing things. I have watched my children reach remarkable points in their lives where they are working hard and they are accomplishing amazing goals. Jaden has taken the scary step into middle school and he was challenged beyond his wildest dreams (and to those of you who know how hard his classes were this year, you may even call them nightmares). He was faced with humongous challenges and he rose to the occasion. He didn’t walk away unscathed but he did learn some valuable lessons about school and life and I know he will be better off for it. He also showed us really how musically talented he is and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes next.
Jaime has been a shining star in everything, and I mean everything she does. She took on an after school program that kept her in school until almost 6pm every day because she wanted to learn more that what she was getting in her regular curriculum. She made it into her first play. She was also on student counsel. Jaime also proved to her teachers how responsible she is and she was honored with a position on her elementary school safety patrol for next year. This was something she wanted so badly and it is a coveted position that is not given out to just anyone. It meant the world to her to have been selected. I am so lucky to be able to watch my kids grow up and become kind, smart, and accomplished. It is the best thing I have in my life and it gives me so much to look forward to because I do not want to miss a moment of it. These are the highest moments in my life.
I’ve also been witness to some other amazing reminders of how great life is. I have friends and family who have found themselves at their low points this past year have proven that they are resilient. They have overcome insurmountable tragedies and somehow they have come out stronger on the other side. Some who also had been brought to the brink of despair were able to reach deep down and pull themselves back up. There are too many of you to name and yours are not my stories to tell, but what I can say is that I am inspired by seeing your strength and courage. I am inspired by you all.
As most of you know Jody now faces another challenge, yet again. This brings us right here to my 43rd birthday and Jody’s new trachea reconstruction surgery. This is hard on him and it will be hard on all of us as a family. We have just come home from the hospital and we are already facing challenges in being able to communicate because Jody can’t talk above a whisper right now. The doctor says Jody might be able to talk, but we will have to wait and see. So what are our options here? We can wallow in the misery of what might be which is Jody not talking. Or we can make the best of what we have which is we have him here with us and he gets to be part of our lives and our family. Even if he has no voice at all the kids and I will take that option. We will find a way to make it work.
Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook lost her husband Dave earlier this year. She wrote the most beautiful reflection about the death of her husband and losing the father of her children. This saddest moment of her life brought me to tears and inspired me all at the same time.
She was talking to one of her friends about a father-child activity that her husband would no longer be there to do. Together her and her friend came up with a plan to fill in for her husband. But, she cried to her friend, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” Her friend put his arm around her and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
This upcoming year Jody and I have a long road ahead of us. We both know this is going to be hell because we’ve been through it once before. I also find myself wishing for option A, the old life we had without all the medical issues and drama. But that option isn’t available to us anymore. But that doesn’t mean it has to suck. We just have to find the option B. The kids will still be growing up and experiencing all sorts of amazing things that we need to be there for. We still have friends and family that love us and who make our lives so much better. We have each other. All of those things are a reason not to give up and to keep looking for the great parts of our lives and not fall into the sad parts of it for too long.
My birthday this year is not about the number. It’s not about how old I’m getting or if I have wrinkles or what has or has not begun to sag. What matters is I have lived one more year. I have seen more and done more than I did a year ago. I got a job teaching, Jody and I celebrated our 17th anniversary, I was able to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Also, I am watching my children grow a little more every day, something I would not miss for the world. Life is so full of all the bad stuff sometimes, but when I sit down and I write these birthday blogs I am able to remind myself that there are tons of great things that have happened. I was given a whole other year and it is what I do with the time I am given that matters.
I once heard an amazing quote at a wedding… “Forever isn’t that long, so make the most of it.” Until my next birthday – here is to making he most of it, and kicking the shit out of option B!
And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.
‘Cause I’m on top of the world.