August 27, 2009

Musing on birthdays

Today is my sister's birthday -- happy b-day to you, sis! We're only 18 months apart in age, and that means I will turn 50 in November.

What is it with us that we celebrate the day we were born? As children, we look forward to a party, eat cake and ice cream, open presents. As adults, we measure milestones by how old we are. What did I achieve of my life goals by 21, 30, 40?

At 21 I was in graduate school, hoping to start my career. By 30 I was angry that I hadn't yet married or had children. And at 40 I had already had cancer for almost a year.

And yet as I wish my sister a happy birthday, I think about my own mortality. Seven years ago I wasn't sure I would live long enough to celebrate my 50th birthday. For me, these days are more precious now than ever before. Every birthday means I spit in cancer's eye once again, saying "hah!" that I have reached another marker, and thank God that I have lived another year.

Rik always sends his mother flowers to thank her for bringing him into the world. Now that's a nice way to celebrate a birthday! If you like, feel free to make this custom your own.


  1. its interesting looking at life in terms of decade milestones- has got me thinking...

  2. I prefer to celebrate birthdays your way...spitting in the eye of cancer. Can I adopt that custom as my own?

  3. I love the part about spitting in the eye of cancer!!