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Turning 34

December 14th, 2011

Dear birthday,

I’m sorry I decided to (mostly) avoid you last year. It wasn’t the best of times for me. I’d just lost my Dad, and the last thing I wanted to do was celebrate getting a year older.

It’s not that people weren’t awesome. My excellent work buds pooled together and found me an amazing Indigo Girls concert print. I took some time out at work to photograph Moira and Zeena wearing new Indigirl designs. I seem to remember sushi lunch from my favorite place. I alternately yelled at Sandra for celebrating too much… or not enough.

But all I wanted to do was cry.

So this year, I’ll be 34. (In a few short hours, actually.) And it may sound odd, but I feel like I haven’t had a birthday in years.

Here it is, nearly the end of 2011. My Dad’s been gone a year. I spent a few months falling apart and a few months putting myself together again.

I traveled to Maryland, Florida, New York. California and Illinois. I turned an amazing corner in my career. I enjoyed my dogs, my home, my wife, my family. I fell, undeniably and completely, in love with baseball. I gained (some of) the weight I’d lost in 2009. I gained a few good friends, and connected with ones I hadn’t seen in years. I learned how to bake a cake. I learned ruby on rails. I learned that I’m not as grown up as I’d like to be. I learned that I don’t actually like being sad.

I learned what it’s like to be scared about losing my mom. That was a big first for me. My whole life, my Dad’s been the one to worry about losing. With my mom’s diagnosis of Stage 4 Lymphoma, I realized that nothing’s a given, nothing’s guaranteed.

And now too, I wait for my own diagnosis; of immune problems, of cancer, of infertility or (God willing) absolutely nothing at all. I’m learning that waiting for your own results is actually easier than waiting for someone else’s.

But despite all of this, despite the head full of thoughts that fight to be acknowledged, I can’t sum up the last year of my life in 500 words on a blog.

It’s more than what I think of, when I think of my 33rd year.

It’s the songs on my playlists. It’s the smile on my face when I get a postcard from a dear friend. It’s my current recipe obsessions, and the movie I saw last weekend. My 33rd year is the new tires on the Jeep, the hole in the attic, the flood in the basement. It’s the smell of coffee at my desk. It’s the neighborhood cat. It’s my pathetic harvest of 4 hot peppers and six cherry tomatoes. It’s the shelves of mason jars, steadily shifting to empty.

“33” wasn’t what I’d expected. And so too, “34” is an age I can’t begin to imagine. Going into it, I pray that next year at this time, I’m counting the blessings of a healthy family, and a happy, healthy life.

So birthday, thanks for reminding me, at least once a year, that life is more than the highlights (or lowlights) I write in posts like these.

Birthday, thank you for reminding me that a year in my life is more than a sum of its parts.


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6 Responses to “Turning 34”

  1. Adriene Says:

    I turned 34 a couple of weeks ago. May we both have just as many things to contemplate and muse over in the coming year. Happy Birthday!

  2. colette Says:

    I remember 34 fondly even though I had lost my mother when I was 33. Happy Birthday! You have lots of things going in your life that will turn into greatness. I am sure your garden will florish THIS year!

  3. Judy G. Says:

    It’s a tough thing, facing our family’s and our own mortality. I think that you have come through the last year with grace, and I know that you will do the same going forward.

    Happy birthday, and best wishes for your 35th year.

  4. Cosette Pathak Says:

    Blessings to you, and good thoughts for an awesome year ahead.

  5. Ana Says:

    Happy (belated) birthday, Amy! Hugs+hugs+hugs.

  6. Fiona Says:

    Belated birthday wishes, Amy.

    I lost my Dad to Multiple Myeloma when I was 31. It has been nearly 6 years and we all still miss his presence, but the ache in the chest and tightness in the throat is not quite as acute now. At first there was relief that his suffering was over, then the grief hit and stayed with us for a long time. With a young child around and another on the way, life had to go on, though it seemed so unfair that his should be ended at 59. I am so grateful that Mum is nearby and dread the thought of anything happening to her, so try to make the most of every day.

    Best wishes to you, Sandra and the rest of your family for a happy, healthy year ahead.

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