Joys and Loses

My birthday was this week and I put one foot over that imaginary mountain in which has been evident in my mind as I made the slow climb up the hill of my life. As a child, you imagine that when you are fifty, you are pretty old. I turned 56 this week. I always pictured 55 as being my peak age and that on my 56 birthday I would be skiing back down the mountain. Longevity has not been the outcome of both of my parents lives.

As I have stated before, my mom died of a brain tumor after a very long two year battle of a Glioblastoma brain tumor. She was 63.  My father died at 72.  I believe, the day that I most miss my mom is on my birthday. Who more than your parent especially your mom, celebrates your birth more? I know with my children, on their birthdays I go back in time to the day they were born and the sense of utter overwhelming joy and total belief in God that that perfect child coveys. For an adopted child the event is just as special for them.  What a miracle that birth is.

On my birthday this week, my third cousin, that lives right up the dirt road from this beautiful scene, sent me this picture of the Britt-Jenkins cemetery at first light. To the left my moms ashes are buried next to her parents, George and Corinne Jenkins. This is not on a map, but is down a country road, turning right at the tobacco barn and down a very well maintained dirt road, I wish I knew all the stories behind the names on these tombstones.

For the past two months I’ve been vividly aware of how precious a gift life is and how I should wake up and grab it all by the hand and walk a bit more aware of the people, places and joys in my life.

The Thursday evening before Memorial Day weekend, five couples gathered at the home of our friends house to celebrate the birthday of one of my very best friends. Do you know how sometimes even as you are experiencing an event you think to yourself that this is really a perfect evening. Our very dear friends whom were hosting the evening are first class host and hostesses. They know just how to entertain and do it flawlessly. Whenever they host a party, you find yourself enjoying, delicious food, drink, dessert but the fellowship, laughs,stories and laid back conversation that only happens with long time friends occurs very easily.

The next morning we were packing to go to the beach for our Memorial Day weekend and our good friends dropped off something I had left at their home, we stood talking in the driveway, both couples excited about a three day low key beach weekend.

This reality is no secret in my life, but here is the big kicker. Life is a crystal glass that we try and fill up with all the good things, good friends, good health, good children, all the life events that make us feel that our lives are being fulfilled in a way that makes our hearts soar with happiness. Carrying that crystal glass and keeping it full is a challenge and as our friends experienced the Friday evening 24 hours after we sat in their lovely home celebrating our friends birthday, that crystal glass shattered in one phone call as they were told that their son had passed away in a motorcycle accident. A complete accident that has no rhyme or reason .  No ones fault. You can’t blame the bike, or the driver or the tree or God.  I wonder how often we come from narrowly escaping a near miss.  I bet it would surprise you.  I do not believe that tragedy is God’s will.  I believe that bad things just happen sometimes, with no one or anything to blame.  The ultimate shattering of life is when a parent loses a child.  My husband and I were in disbelief and wished that we could turn back time for them and make it all better.  There are no do-overs and tragedy falls on everyone it does not discriminate .  Everyday I look at their home. They live directly across from us and I pray for them daily. I just pray for them to be able to LIVE their lives in the after. Their son LIVED his life big! I pray they will be able to celebrate his life by doing what he would want them to do and that is to live happily rejoicing in the gift of LIFE.   Of course the Thursday evening we all gathered for dinner will be the before and the next day they heard the news will be the after as with anything or any news that divides your life into chapters.

On the day when I was 21 and was told by a doctor that my mom had a terminally ill incurable brain tumor, from that day on that was the after and everyday prior to that day was the before .

As I was told when I was 19 that my then boyfriend I had dated for 3 years had been tragically killed in a car accident, that day plays like a film in my head whenever I hear of a young person passing away.

This summer I have been extremely aware of life’s gifts and how easy that I take them for granted. I go to my gym to a morning workout class three days a week and a two day a week yoga class. All of the ladies and gentlemen are special to me. One of our exercise members had been very sporadic in coming to class this past 6 months or so, and many months ago talked of her back hurting quite a bit. Last night I attended her visitation service where I hugged her beautiful young son and daughter and felt their pain as they dealt with the death of their mom that had died this weekend from a very short battle with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Another friend lost her mom this week and they spoke on the phone all the time and had such a close relationship. As she and I texted, she said, she didn’t know it would be this hard. It’s all so damn final…

Here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to LIVE! I’m going to tell my kids and grandkids and friends how much I love them. I’m going relish in the good times and avoid anything that I just don’t want to do. I’m going to say NO to anything that my conscience tells me to say no to and I’m going to live toward making memories with the people I care about.

I’m going to try and do a kindness for someone daily. You never know what hurt someone carries in their heart. My brother died at 56 of a massive heart attack. My mom died at 63. My friends son died at 31. His life was just starting and his parents hearts will ache forever. Their pain is like its own being, it’s the pain of a loss that is so fresh that I want to seize it for them but all I can do is pray that they can find a way to live a life where joy will exist again.

My greatest joy right now is living life with my grandsons. I marvel at the little joys in their lives. They are 3 and they are so happy at the small things in life. I’m also living joy in my new profession that God led me to as a florist assistant. This week, my good friend invited me to her lake house where we slept, swam, and enjoyed delicious meals. The two highlights were simple ones. The best one was the large chocolate milkshake she bought us and the other was our long walk the day before my birthday up up up the hills around lake tillery. The day was going to be a warm one for sure as the sun beat down on us as we walked. As we approached her road to return to her lake house that’s perched on top of a hill in a beautiful peninsula surrounded with crystal clear cool fresh water, we prepared for our perfect ending to our walk, as we slipped of our sneakers and went to our ascent of hopping into that beautiful lake with our shorts and T-shirt.

I have always been a carefree person. I have very few inhibitions but sometimes we all have times when life gets in the way of our joy. I’m changing out my crystal glass  for a plastic one. It’s too hard keeping that crystal intact. Order the dessert, jump in the lake with your clothes on, dance at the parties, take the class, quit the job and get a new job. Tell your kids or family members everyday you love them. Remove the bad out of your life. Set your boundaries. Wear your comfortable clothes. Take the trip. Don’t ignore the aches and pains, go to the doctor . Listen to that little voice inside your head that gives you insight. Follow your heart.

Be kind, thankful and be in the present. 

Be aware of what makes you happy and do it.  

Do not live like you are dying

LIVE like you are LIVING your best life!