I had a lot of feelings anticipating this birthday – none of which have to with turning a prime number. Rather, I’ve been deep in reflections that come with marking another year. As many of you know, my dad died unexpectedly less than a week after I turned 40 and my family learned things about his life that rocked our world. That led to grieving during my favorite season and shifting perspectives about belonging. (I wrote about that, so feel free to look back: Reflections on living & dying and Seasons of belonging.)
Now, a year later, I’m finding myself isolated again but because of different circumstances. Spring is full of birthdays in my immediate family and with our best friends. Anticipating this round of birthdays looking different was hard on me at first.
And then I decided to embrace it.
I started celebrating a few days early. I’m extroverted enough that I am longing for face-to-face connections, so I was especially happy to get visitors. We did a decent job socially distancing ourselves. Jaclyn brought me lunch (and a Diet Strawberry Limeade!) on Friday. Then Saturday, Courtney showed up with flowers and Kim brought a chocolate chip pie. Sweetness, literally! As an initiator of plans and connections, having someone else reach out to me is a gift. Of course, I’ve had some time lately to process all my thoughts and feelings, so that’s been another gift.
Greg also asked me a few times what I wanted to do for my birthday. It took me a while to come up with an answer: Make myself homemade cinnamon rolls and start a “garden” with some potted vegetable plants – and I wanted my family to help me with these things. So that’s what we did this weekend, and that seems appropriate for this season. Of course, the cinnamon rolls failed because the dough didn’t rise, even though we followed the instructions, including how to substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast because that’s all I could find last week when I was grocery shopping. Here’s the hoping the tomato, zucchini, and pepper plants are more successful! Our pool is open, but the water was 62 degrees last time I checked!
Tara left bagels on my door step. Greg and Ben made me pancakes and sausage for breakfast. Greg and Cate put together a video of birthday greetings from family and friends that they’d collected without me knowing. I cried almost immediately, and the happy tears continued while I watched different people I love bless me with their words during this weird time.
Today is Social Distancing Day 51 for us, so I’ve settled in here. I’ve remembered the smaller circle of belonging that brought me comfort last summer in the midst of grief. I’ve found ways to connect to people I care about, even if I’m missing them in my daily life.
Really, it’s been a valuable year: I’ve learned about adjusting and appreciating what is right in front of me this past year. I’ve found the beauty in slowing down and living my best life with my few closest people. I’ve learned to play some new board games. I’ve gotten to travel and then come home to explore places right here. I wrote a book that I’m working on self-publishing. I’ve read more fiction and been more selective about non-fiction. I’ve deepened my relationship with my Creator and Rescuer.
I’d say that a good year, even if it had some hard surprises. So, here’s to another year and all the lessons and gifts it’ll bring, including cinnamon rolls made by someone other than me.