Musing Birth…. And Death….

Just Thinking…..

Spring is finally bursting out in all its frothiness: masses of white and pink blossoms on the flowering trees, sprouting grass, leaves pushing through the tips of branches. I normally love this time of year, second only to the exuberance of a brilliantly flaming autumn.

I love spring because it is my birthday month (April), and I am plum crazy about birthdays. I love celebrating other folk’s birthdays, and REALLY love celebrating my own. Growing older is just another excuse for another birthday party, if you know what I mean. I get a real kick out of planning and preparing birthday dinners and parties for family and friends, choosing a gift, deciding on a menu, shopping, cooking, setting the table, creating a one of a kind card, lighting the candles and singing in our off-key way the birthday song. I don’t give huge gifts, but I really enjoy making the birthday person feel like the most special person in the world on that particular day. Birth needs to be celebrated. People are important, and I give praise for each one that impacts my life. Each is God’s creation and unique handiwork. That’s worth celebrating!!!!

And then, after a year of celebrating everyone’s birthday, I look forward to my own birthday. What’s ahead for this year? What is God planning for me? What will I learn? I anticipate a special meal, some sort of cake (even though I don’t like cake), basking in the light of oh-so-many candles, listening to the enthusiastic singing, blowing out candles, opening the cards and gifts. My special day. My time of knowing that I still count to these people.

We are born to die. That about sums it up for this year.

All of my anticipation for my birthday this year was swallowed up by death. A dear man that we were honored to call friend (and who is also my sister’s father in law) was buried on my birthday. We went out of state for the funeral, and stayed at my girlfriend’s home. She greeted me on my birthday morning with a cup of coffee and a gift. Bless her heart. I had no idea that she remembered.

My sweet Hubby had not forgotten my birthday, but he had nothing there to give me except a kiss (and I don’t discount the important of that!). But usually he has a goofy card and a nice gift wrapped in the usual Wal-Mart bag waiting for me at breakfast. This year there was none of that. And although a gift did come at another time, I never received a card from him. For the first time in my married life, I had no birthday card from my husband.

The funeral was an uplifting tribute to a great man, and was honoring of our Lord. I didn’t think about the missed birthday at all until at the lunch afterwards. My sweet sissy mentioned that I might always remember my birthday in a different way from now on. And she is right.

After we traveled back home, I fully expected that I would have a belated birthday celebration. Um…. not exactly. I’m still waiting. No, not really. April is over, and I now know that my birthday for this year is just not going to happen. I had held hope that sometime in April I would finally have that celebration, but it became a non event.

My dad is dying. For a while this past year, it was two steps down and one step up. Now it is just two steps down, and then another step down. He is in and out of the nursing homes and ER and hospital and…. My mother is not handling this well. None of us are the same; none of us have traveled this path. We muddle around, trying our best, loving our parents, wanting the most for them, not knowing how to do it all. This spring has been especially hard. But my mom, despite all of this, planned a little dinner for me. We met her at McDonalds, along with my sis, and Mom paid for my dollar sandwich. She gave me a little card that she had made. Bless her heart. If it wasn’t for her card, the only birthday card I would have had this year was from JC Penney, announcing that because it was my birthday that I get $10 off my next purchase.

Later, my son and wife took me to dinner and gave me a gift. Bless their hearts. It wasn’t on my actual day of birth, but close enough.

And that, folks, was my birthday. No cards from anyone else. No cake. No candles. No singing. Usually I had at least a card from my sibs. This year…. nothing. To be honest, I felt like a non-person. Like I didn’t count as much. I cried. Then I told myself to suck it up. Told myself that my family just wasn’t in to birthdays like I was, and that I just as well get used to it. Oh, it was quite the pity-party. And it hurt…. way down deep.

Meanwhile, our friend George is dead, and his wife and family are grieving. My dad is still intensely ill, and we are grieving. I know that in the scheme of things, the fact that I didn’t really have a birthday this year is so minor as to not even appear on the chart. It’s a blip. I know that my family still loves me, even though it looks like they forgot my birthday. Irony, huh? The girl who so passionately loves birthdays didn’t get one this year. It was a death of its own, the death of my dream and passion. Does this signal the death of celebrating birthdays of others in the family? Is this the message being subtly sent: that no one really wants a “to do” any more? That would break my heart as much as my birthday being forgotten.

I don’t remember being born, but I can imagine that it was somewhat like a life struggling to be free, striving to be out of the body that has held it for nine months. Maybe death is similar: that eternal life struggling out of the body that has encased it for so many years, striving for that freedom of Heaven. It’s all sort of connected somehow. My mind is still sorting through things and this post may not make a lot of sense. So many things in life have birth…. and death….

My dad was born on Dec. 24. He remarked that many times people handed him one gift, and said, “Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday!”, and that he felt somehow cheated. I was guilty of doing some of that cheating. But now I understand what you were feeling, Dad. Your birth was made to feel somehow insignificant. I’m sorry, so very sorry. Now as you lay dying, what I wouldn’t give to celebrate your birth in an extravagant way, showering you with all the love you deserve.

Oh Father! Heal my grieving soul! I do grieve for the loss of celebrating my birthday. I grieve for my father. Forgive me for what must be such a selfish shallow attitude. Thank You for the opportunity of life, even when it doesn’t go like I want it to go. Help me sort through all my confusion. And then, please, fill me with renewal of excitement and strength for another year. Amen

To God be the glory….

Published in: on May 11, 2013 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment