I had a birthday recently… a “milestone” birthday”. I had anticipated it and knew that it was going to be mentioned with gentle jokes, happy laughter, and loving joy… what I hadn’t expected were the feelings that hit me as the subsequent days rolled along.
Maybe it had to do with the fact that we recently moved away from our home of 13 years. Since this was the place where I’d put in the most effort in making, and keeping, friends, I was actually looking forward to this birthday. I was looking forward to wearing my “It’s my Birthday” pin (which I apparently forgot to pack) and have random people wish me a Happy Birthday. I was looking forward to scads of emails, texts, and Facebook messages sending a bit of birthday love my way. I was even looking forward to having some of my “nearest and dearest” complain that I wasn’t close by to visit for coffee or a drink. Isn’t that what usually happens when someone close to us celebrates a birthday of any age?
Before I go any further, I must say that I was overwhelmed by the kindness and love that were showered on me throughout my birthday weekend. There were texts, calls, emails, and so very many loving FB messages that I truly felt blessed… and I thank each and every one of you for reaching out in any way possible. My mom called and invited me to meet her for lunch… and brought a special birthday cake. My husband planned a special dinner at my college friend’s restaurant so we could celebrate. Thank God for Facebook (really!) for reminding people about my birthday, because my feed was going crazy (in a delightful way) with wishes of fun, joy, love, etc… I read and appreciated every single one. I was also touched that so many sent emails or texts… in this age of instant/constant activity, I was grateful for all forms of communication. The cards that arrived at our new address or forwarded from our old one were especially sweet… when one isn’t “on the clock” or scheduled to be somewhere, the trip down to the mailroom can sometimes be the brightest spot in an entire day. I pray that I remember this piece of information in the coming years when friends move, because any and all written correspondence has been a balm to my bruised soul. FYI: No… bills do not count as “correspondence”. 😉
What I wasn’t expecting was the sadness that I felt in the subsequent days when a few select people in my life chose to ignore my birthday. I truly cannot fathom the reason for someone “forgetting” the birthday of another. We are bombarded with information in so many different forms that it ends up feeling intentional when such a slight happens. While excuses will most likely be made as time goes on, I don’t know that I’ll be able to simply forget this year. The quote included in this post says it all, in my opinion.
This post isn’t meant to change the past or alter the future. It’s simply my way of trying to let go of expectations and move on with my life. I understand that everyone deals with loss in their own ways… some attack it head on while others try and pretend it doesn’t exist… but that doesn’t mean that I have to accept the subsequent feelings of loss that I experience when someone makes the choice to make an excuse instead of making an effort.
I admit to being one of those people who keeps a mental tally of those who slight and those who don’t. I recognize that this is a character flaw, but it has saved me in the past and I’m reluctant to change at this point in my life. After all, I’m now FIFTY years old… I believe that I am old enough to choose to forgive & forget or to stand up for myself and not allow myself to be used as a doormat.
I’m going to choose me this time. I believe that my feelings are important… they matter… and if someone in my life doesn’t feel the same way, then I am going to try to let them go. It’s not easy to leave a life that you worked hard to build, but we each should understand and support the fact that our lives will take us on our own paths. Changing the course of your life doesn’t mean you have to shed those with whom you have shared your life… it should mean that you do the work to keep those people close. NOTE: For the most part, my HS friends and my HoodLums understand this in spades… each one of you is a gift more precious than gold in my book and you each have my eternal love and friendship.
As the saying goes, “when someone truly cares about you, they make an effort, not an excuse”. It would be so sad if this were the end, but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles… right?