Today my older daughter asked what I wanted to do about my birthday this year. She and her husband just bought their first home, so she wants to have us over for cake. I hadn’t given it much thought and told her we’d have to play it by ear due to COVID concerns. After all, my birthday is closer to the end of the month.
When I told my husband we had time to think about it, he reminded me that it’s next weekend. When did that happen? October is skittering by along with the leaves that have begun to fall here. In just over a week, I will be forty-seven years old.
I don’t feel old, nor do I feel young. I’m just where I belong–at exactly the right spot.
I’m not much for joking about staying thirty-nine every year or making a big hullabaloo about my birthday. I have no need for gifts. Spending time with my family eating cake is all I need. This year will be weird though. I have to think about where and when and if I should gather to celebrate.
Since my husband and I both work in high schools, we are not going to get together with my parents, my sisters, and their families. There’s too much exposure to too many people at our jobs.
I am disappointed about this but know it’s best. We usually gather for each person’s birthday to eat cake and celebrate another trip around the sun.
And what a strange trip it’s been this year. It started out normal before pivoting to a foreign and sometimes unsettling year. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own mortality and that of those around me.
Who will get sick?
Who will recover?
What will life be like by the next time I complete a journey around the sun?
Will I even complete my next trip?
I know it sounds grim. It’s not meant to. The madness and sadness of 2020 have just got me thinking and reflecting a lot.
The sun is impartial to all this. It keeps shining and holds us fast in its embrace as we circle round and round. Nothing is certain or predictable about the future on a good day. We just feel it more keenly now I suppose. Trepidation about the future wasn’t a feeling I had last year on my birthday.
But I refuse to dwell in these somber places. I’m purposing to be grateful and enjoy life in little ways each day. A walk outside in the sun. Saturday snuggles with my son on the sofa. Quiet morning prayer. Looking out the window at the catalpa tree morphing from green to golden.
All of it is precious and important, reminding me of how beautiful life is.
I’m choosing to live in hope. Faith and family will carry me through uncertain times. That is more than enough for me. Stay well, live well, love well.
Tracy is a New Jersey writer who loves Earl Grey tea, spending time outside, and painting. She lives with her husband and children in a home where birdsong and rainstorms provide the soundtrack for her creative life.