When I turned 21, somehow I ended up celebrating by myself. I don’t even remember the details why; but I ended up going to a bar by myself to have a drink alone. It was depressing. The bar was… well, an Iowa dive bar of some sort. One thing I do remember, is that they had one of those calendars that you rip off each day. I asked the Bartender if I could have that day, and he ripped it off and handed it to me. I still have that calendar page. And that was the year I vowed I would not celebrate alone, ever again! Perhaps that was part of the inspiration for me to want to celebrate milestones and led me to where I am now.
From that time on, each year I would find some creative way to throw myself a birthday celebration. In my 20’s I found some great places where people could gather, and buy their own drinks or food and just gather with me. I always shared their presence was my present and no gifts. In my 30’s and 40’s I was married, and then had a family, and they were my celebration foundation, and the party grew from there with loved ones. In my 50’s… family was still a big part. As my children have flown the nest, I love inviting friends to my home and cooking and savoring conversations with food and wine.
So tomorrow is my birthday… sheltered in place… staying at home… my vow will be different this year. I’ve been a trooper the past couple weeks leading up to the big day. But today, I could feel my little lip coming out into a bit of a pout, and I embraced my sadness. I had several things on my list to do. Instead I resorted to cooking and feeling the joy I have cooking, imagining I was preparing foods for my birthday feast. Thankfully I have friends I am cooking for and I look forward to giving much of the food to them.
Just as i have talked with people about new ways to hold weddings and memorial services at this time; I find, I will be practicing some of that tomorrow. My children are hosting a Zoom gathering. So I am embracing this way of celebrating… and … looking forward to it. I’ve always loved a party and am up for new things. And I’m curious what my sweet children have cooked up. I planned my outfit, my jewelry, my shoes; and will most likely put on makeup for the first time in 32 days. I have a birthday balloon already from friends.
And I have FaceBook birthday love to look forward to. The greetings have already started coming in this Birthday Eve… so far from Australia and Lebanon and Iowa. I get excited about each greeting and see the face and the smile of each person. And I smile with the memory of how we met or a fun time shared. Perhaps FaceBook has been preparing me for this new way of celebrating my birthday for years. Because I LOVE Facebook birthday love! Those greetings come from afar and bring me so much joy.
However it will be, will be. And I already feel blessed. I am living life fully and have the opportunity to meet so many people and celebrate their living and celebrating and dying. All sacred and all touch my heart in various ways.
My needs are simpler and simpler with each passing year. From working with people at end of life, I understand my desires are universal… to love and be loved. I can’t take anything else with me when it’s my time to depart this earth.
I believe this night I will offer one of my favorite poems as prayer.
I first heard this in high school from a beloved English Teacher, Mrs. Rife.
This is my prayer and my wish this night…
First Fig "My candle burns at both ends It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - It gives a lovely light.” — Edna St. Vincent Millay
Originally Published to Facebook on April 18th, 2020 at https://www.facebook.com/creativecarolcelebrant/posts/154710789352454