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Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Contemplation On Birthdays

When I was very young, a whole generation died. All my great aunts and uncles. I was too young to really understand death, but old enough to miss them when they were gone. I wasn't allowed to go to their funerals, because I was too young.

One of my great aunts lived in New York and we had to drive there for the funeral. The kids stayed at the house until the adults came back from the funeral. I knew my great aunt had died, but I kept expecting her to walk in the door. I remember running around and then jumping down the stairs. I fell and skinned my knee and there was blood all over. I still have a scar on my knee from when I fell.

When I was in the 4th grade, the town where I grew up had too many students in the middle school, so some of us had to go to the school in the Parish Center. Many kids stayed after school for Catechism and I didn't know what that was. I knew it had something to do with being Catholic, but we were Protestant, so I didn't go. Thinking back to some cases that I read in law school, I wonder how this was constitutional, but I digress.

What I remember most was that for recess, we played out back in the graveyard. We had to move when they had funerals. It always scared me.

Since a young age, I've always thought about death. How sad it made me feel when family members died. And how funerals were so final and scary to me. I have these playtime recess memories, playing Hopscotch and Chinese jump rope between rows of graves.

Why am I remembering all these today? Because it's my birthday and I always loved my birthday. But since 2001, it became largely associated with horror and death. That day was horrible beyond words and I remember sitting with my family watching the news, being grateful that we were together and safe, but so sad.

Over the years since 2001, it became much happier and I hear of little kids born the same day and wonder how it is growing up with this date for a birthday. I at least had all the pre-2001 years without the strange death association.

Today I'm getting ready to go to a funeral for the family member of another family member. She was sick for a long time. I didn't know her very well, but she lived a very good life. Was loved by many. And will be truly missed.

I'm not doing what I thought I'd be doing today. But once again, this closeness to death, makes me contemplate the gift of life and how it goes by very quickly.


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7 comments:

T. said...

I guess it might not necessarily be a "happy" birthday for you today, but I wish you a truly GOOD birthday - which I know it will be because of the gift of goodness you already carry inside you! Many blessings on this day, my friend - I hope you make time for a treat for yourself.

Relyn said...

Oh, happy, happy birthday!! May your year be full of blessings.

Sharlene T. said...

First of all, a very Happy Birthday, to you!... secondly and more importantly, consider not associating events outside of your control with your birthday... you can be aware of the tragedies (they are everywhere) and still enjoy your own day for what it is and, unless in the case of your dear friend, it is an inherent part of your life, do NOT let anyone bring you down (that includes YOU)... my daughters had the same birthday, two years apart... my youngest passed away after a long hard fight with cancer... although she wouldn't admit it, my eldest always managed to find a reason not to celebrate her own birthday because her sister had shared that birthday... this went on for more than ten years... I finally confronted her about it (she denied it) and told her that her sister would be appalled to know that she stood in the way of her celebrations... these things happen... it's part of the life and death cycle and totally out of your control... send prayers and thoughts for those in need, but enjoy your day... you've earned it and you deserve it... come visit when you can... {{{HUGS}}}

SE'LAH... said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my friend! sending you lots of love on your special day.
(one day late, sorry)

lexlocilori said...

Birthday wishes to you! Hope it was wonderful in spite of all the sad events.

josephine said...

first of all, happy belated birthday! secondly, yeah, it's unfortunate that the horrific event fell on your special day, but i applaud you for turning it into a positive by continuing to feel grateful for the blessings in your ilfe.

Anali said...

t - Thanks so much my friend! ;)

relyn - Thank you! I'll take all the blessings I can get!

sharlene - So much to think about. I am so sorry about your daughter's passing. Thank you for sharing your story and for these kind and wise words.

se'lah - Birthday wishes are appreciated whenever they arrive!

lexlocilori - Later on, it ended up being a nice day. Thanks!

josephine - Thanks for the sweet words as always!

 
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