I can’t help but be thankful and marvel at the difference a year makes.
I woke up on New Year’s Day 2013 with the weight of What Was To Come handcuffing me to my bed: my fiftieth birthday.
I hardly felt like the girl who stretches birthdays as wide as they’ll go, believing each is a milestone worthy of sparkles and decadent eating. This year was different, though, and I had known it before the ball dropped and the clock struck 2013–my spirit was roaming where the Black Dog runs wild. I didn’t recognize myself.
We had returned from Germany that December after making one of the hardest decisions of our lives: to walk away from a great job without another in hand.
It was a choice mined from rocks and hard places. To accept a change in plans – two additional years abroad (which would fragment our family) – or quit. Both decisions had merit, but one required a leap of faith across a bottomless chasm.
Free-falling and silent screams. I lived very small for months and I don’t even remember Christmas.
But it wasn’t only the job thing, it was so many things–
The day after Christmas, I injured my knee so badly (torn meniscus) I was confined to bed for a week; later I would learn I’d need surgery.
We had elected rather than enacting COBRA insurance, to begin a new policy January 1. Oops.
In February, I was stunned to learn from my doctor I wasn’t pre-menopausal or even menopausal…I was post-menopausal. How was that possible when my body told me otherwise every month?? (Eventually, thankfully, I would own it.)
My baby would start driving, my oldest would turn 21 and my middle kid would graduate high school.
I mourned my abrupt, premature departure from Germany, we weren’t yet settled in a new church and I was isolated and lonely.
And my husband was working so hard, every day, to find a new job.
We knew it would be a challenging season but that doesn’t make it easier.
We believed it was the right choice for our marriage and for our children, but that doesn’t make it easier, either.
By the time my birthday rolled around 90 days into the new year, I was leveling. I wasn’t exactly excited about turning 50, but at least I wasn’t dreading it.
A few dear friends planned to celebrate with us, and if ANY a day warranted wear of my princess dress, this was it. We had reservations at St. Johns, one of the nicest dining spots in town, worthy of excitement in and of itself.
That is, until they’re walking up the stairs to bring you the dinner you’ve been patiently awaiting for quite a while, when you hear a horrifying crash and…
You just know that was your dinner clattering down the stairs….
Oddly and atypical of a restaurant of that caliber (and cost), they offered nothing in concession other than “refreshing our drinks” and “We’re sorry for the inconvenience.” I was embarrassed my friends were paying that much for dinner and not even a complimentary dessert; if they were offering free drinks, they sure didn’t make that clear. But that’s another story….
So, yeah…last year, with the restaurant throwing my birthday dinner on the floor and ALL OF THE OTHER THINGS, it wasn’t exactly my happiest of birthdays.
This year, however, was another story.
I can’t wait to re-live it in the telling.
To be continued…