Time is infuriating. In someways I still feel like an 8-year-old- like fundamentally unchanged. Yet, I know a great deal of time has passed in this life of mine. Yes, yesterday was my birthday. I do feel stronger, more confident, more self-reliant. When I was a child I would lay awake at night as I tried to go to sleep, tears emerging because I loved my mother so much, I couldn't imagine if something horrible happened to her. I remember fighting with my parents, running to my room sobbing and feeling like my heart was literally cracking in half. That was a desperate kind of love.
I'm not sure I can describe the love I have for Vi and Ave. It is the same in that I cannot imagine my world, my life, continuing without one or both of them. It is not the same desperate, clingy love- but one of hope that they can fulfill their potential as human beings with the gifts they have been given. It is also a difficult love because sometimes saving someone from making mistakes down the road requires a sort of hardness and vigilance, and guilt can become like a thousand splinters that you cannot get out.
And out of these forty years, even with difficulty, uncertainty and mstakes, somehow I feel the last 13 years have been the best- that my life did not truly begin until I held Viola in my arms for the first time. It may sound strange but in that moment it was like the rubberband that connected me to my former life, my former self was irrevocably snapped and my real life began.
I do believe that our society should show recognition and respect of certain touchstones in our lives: graduations, promotions, success- even at the lowest level. We need to sit vigil with those we love, we need to bury our dead. And birthdays should be celebrated because birth, even one, inexorably alters this life for everyone, for the planet, for our friends and family.
And so often we do not do these things because really they are a sort tribute to change- and who really likes change? Change leads us into the unknown and makes us think of things we do not want to think about. What I thought about alot on my birthday was the fact that this may mark the end of the first half of my life- if I am lucky, or some other fraction. Every year of my life marks another for Dean and the girls, as well. That does not make me feel like celebrating because it brings me ever closer to the unknown.
It wrenches at my heart to think a time may come when I will not be here for my girls. What hurts worse is that as they grow up, they also grow away, and I know how that works. They will no longer need me like they do now. They will see my imperfections. They will have even more powerful loves that will leave me swinging by myself in the park. They will not sit in the next swings, all of us leaning so far back that our hair grazes the ground, giggling, as our stomachs drop and our feet stretch toward the blue skies
But it is important to celebrate birth, life and death because these things are a part of our humanity. Marking time is important because we draw only so many breaths, our hearts have only so many beats and the clock is always ticking, whispering in its metronomic voice, "Do something, be someone... LIVE".
It frightens me how many minutes, hours, days I have spent in a meaningless fashion- as if I were a billionaire of time, thinking I need not make choices but just take it all and wrap it up. Sometimes I wonder if it is truly too late to live without regret.
And it is funny- I do not worry about dying, even if it is cruel and painful. Maybe I will want to BE there, feel it, know it when it happens, witness my human self blinking out for eternity. What I fear is what I will miss. I will not be here to comfort those I love. I will miss out on some of their touchstones, as well. I suppose I am too greedy, longing to see the entirity of the miracles of the lives around me. Of course, that same greed wishes me to escape the grief of seeing eyes I have loved close their last.
There is also a vanity involved. I used to think I was special, that I could change the world in great ways. Maybe I still will, but right now I feel like I am bailing out my rowboat witha teaspoon.
So, yes, 40 birthdays- more than half of them spent side-by-side with Dean, 13 birthdays that mark another year of being called Mommy, decades of friends come, gone, lost, returned. 40 years of watching, wonder, awe, amazement and laughter- as well as tears and sadnesses, classrooms I can barely remember yet having learned so much.
Is there still time? I guess I must keep hoping- after all, the tortoise did beat the hare.
I recall again sitting on the roof, looking out over Lake Washington, as a child (I did love to climb trees and climb out my window onto the roof of our two-story house). That evening the sunset was brilliant. It is like a postcard in my head except that I can feel the wind on my face, see the light ripple with the waves. And what a sunset it was. I felt overcome and undone. I felt that it was a moment I could live in for eternity, perfection.
But now there have been sunsets and sunrises and rain and a clear blue sky with not a cloud in sight to subdue the noonetime sun.
Birthdays are good for remembering to appreciate these days, recognizing that what has been will never be again, So, cheers, here is to another year of sunrises and snuggles and laughing, another year of singing in the car, of moments of grief and times of great, wonderful love.
I will end with this:
"You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret— you return to the beauty you have always been.” -Aberjahani