I just read about some New York bigshot who spent $5 million on his one birthday party. Um, what? Is he an independent nation now and celebrating by spending the equivalent of his GNP?
Today is my birthday – 50+, yes. In the past, we ignored birthdays, anniversaries, any secular celebration. Our religious holidays were really low-key, as well. And they still are, but we have upped the celebration level of personal milestones. It is the $20 celebration for us, with take-away store pizza, a cake and ice cream. But special prayers are said, a candle is lit, and we have a modest toast.
Because every birthday and anniversary, for us,is a celebration of life together. Since Nicholas had the stroke, and almost died in the resulting fall, injury, blood loss and massive infection, we have become more aware of each day we have together. He doesn’t remember that first month after the stroke, so for him, it’s emotionally and mentally like coming back from the grave. He passed through the valley of the shadow of death. His vague memories of his fall and consequent rush to the emergency ward are very much about feeling like he was sliding away from life, with everyone’s voics getting distant and weak, and the light fading around him. He never lost consciousness, but after seeing me for a few minutes in the ER, and being wisked away for surgery, his memory stops for weeks. He has one certain memory of hearing pigeons outside his hospital room, and worrying that they were cold and dying. Some of his other memories are really memories of either dreams or fever hallucinations. His memory doesn’t pick up again until he was in stroke rehabilitation.
So every day is a new day for us. Every year is a triumph and a milestone. There is a strong likelihood that an underlying medical issue will take his life young. I watch constantly for signs of its progression. But even though his memory is hit and miss, my own is good. The most likely scenario is that I will live for decades after he is gone, and I don’t want to waste a moment, or neglect to celebrate the gracious gift of joy and life God has given us.