Birthdays have never bothered me. 30? I can barely remember it. (Two young kids can do that for you.) 40th? No mid-life crisis, just the fun of celebrating. 50th? Definitely worth celebrating with friends. But this 58th birthday is getting to me. It has been looming before me for several years now. And I know why.
Mom died about four months after her 58th birthday. Fifty-eight. I always knew she missed so many milestones with her kids and grandkids. Some of her grandchildren were born after her death. She missed graduations, weddings, and great grandchildren. She missed birthdays, awards ceremonies, promotions, graduation speeches, plays, cheerleading, football games, music concerts, ballet recitals, and a million other activities of her children and grandchildren. She missed knowing her great grandchildren. How she would have loved it all!
And now, I am turning 58. I understand it is not unusual to live in apprehension as the age of a parent's death approaches. Some call it a syndrome or "living in the shadow of death." And even though I know this, it is still unnerving.
I am not my mother. I'm healthier than she was, spared the head-on collision that left her a bit crippled for the rest of her life and robbed her of the active lifestyle I enjoy. And yet in other ways, we are quite similar: not that happy as stay-at-home moms, teachers who love/loved their work, keepers of the family traditions, and avid readers.
I would feel robbed if this was to be all I would get to experience. Don't get me wrong. I am grateful for 57 years that have been wonderful and full of many great memories. There just happens to be quite a bit more that I want to be around for.
So, I'm trying hard not to think about the ending that 58 represents to me. I'm concentrating on all the living I want to do in the years ahead, all the events that I don't want to miss. I'm trying to remember that 58 really is just another birthday. And so on Monday, I'll be celebrating #58.