Today is my 51st birthday.
Today I hold my breath…….not because I dread growing another year older, but because of what this birthday represents. There have been moments in my life when I have held my breath and moments that took my breath away. Yet, there have only been two other times when I woke up on a day of celebration and held my breath, not just for that day but for the following days, weeks and months. I held my breath for the entire year. And today I find myself holding my breath and fearing what may happen next.
My mother was 51 yrs old when she was suddenly taken from me. I was 14.
The day my oldest son turned 14, I held my breath fearing that he may have to go through what I went through at his age and praying everyday of that year that God would let him not ever have to feel that pain, at least not at 14. And I prayed that I would get to see him turn 15, unlike my mother who missed my 15th birthday. The day he turned 15 I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and thanked God. Now things were okay and we could go on with life, for a few years anyway.
Five years later, as my youngest son turned 14, I again held my breath, praying that he would not feel that pain and that I would see him turn 15. And when he turned 15, I again breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and the weight of that fear left me. We all made it through those years and I could breathe and celebrate all that life was giving me. I could breathe for years now.
Last year I turned 50 and it did not bother me. But the weeks leading up to this birthday have been filled with fear, trepidation and sadness. And this morning I found myself holding my breath. My mother was 51 and had so much left to do and experience. We spent many nights talking about the future, the dreams she had for me, the life she couldn’t wait to see for me. We talked about me going to college, getting married and how much she looked forward to seeing me as a mother. And she missed all of it. And I have missed having her physically here to call, to talk to, to laugh with and to cry with. I am saddened that my boys never got to know the loving grandmother she would have been to them. Yes, I know, she is always with me, in my heart and I know she has watched over me all of these years. But today, as I turn 51, I cannot help but hold my breath and pray! I have so much more I want to experience in this life.
Today I hold my breath, an involuntary reaction to an event that shaped my life and I am faced with a choice—to hold my breath and live this year in fear, praying that I get to celebrate my 52nd birthday, that I get to do all those things my mother never had the chance or I can breathe. And today, right now, in this moment I am going to choose to breathe, to live the life my mother didn’t get the opportunity to live. Life is short and precious. And none of us know just how long we have. I choose to live this day, the coming weeks and years, to honor all that my mother meant to me, all that she taught me and all that she gave me. I choose to experience all that she dreamed about, all that I dream about and all that she missed.
And I start with this blog. I have wanted to do this for a very long time, but fear held me back. So what better day to start something new, to take a leap and go for it, than the day I turn 51, the day I was dreading, the day I was holding my breath. This year will be about stepping outside my comfort zone, about taking that leap and seeing what happens. This is about experiencing life, the everyday ordinary and the extraordinary!
There may be days, like today, where I find myself holding my breath and the fear creeping in, but I will choose to take the leap and JUST BREATHE!