The threat of rain darkened the November sky. A light breeze sent golden leaves floating to the concrete patio below. Seated across from me on the blue, slightly lopsided picnic table was my person.
Fifteen years of marriage brought us to this point. A child-free weekend in our favorite mountain town. We were trying out a new (to us) taco joint. He went for the pork belly and shrimp - hold the pickled cucumbers. Blackened fish and Thai chicken were my choices. A single Korean beef taco was the common ground - meant for sharing.
Among bursts of flavors and sighs of culinary pleasure, we discussed the reason behind our sacred getaway.
“What are you proud of from year 41?”
This trip was a gift. Another year of life to be celebrated. I labeled it his “best yet.”
“I am proud that I have done some things for myself.”
Yes - a hundred times yes. We have both learned this lesson. Self care can be the greatest gift we give to each other and our loved ones.
We were not simply celebrating one particular birthday but the cumulative effect. We know the backstory. Year 41 is not nearly as impressive without the stark contrast of years 27 or 35. There were years plagued with addiction. Fear once permeated our lives masquerading as anger and harsh words. We did not share tacos during those years. We shared hurt, tears and resentment.
Those years forged us in the fire.
I gather up the broken chips that settled in the bottom of the plastic, paper-lined basket. Could we really bid farewell to an entire year without queso? A taco toast to two healthy kids, a business and community we love, shared passions and personal growth.
He found his passion in helping others, in helping us, and in helping himself. In return, his dad, sister, children, friends, athletes, co-workers, wife, and even my sweet Momma in her dying days all received a gift in his forty-first year of life.
Yes, birthdays are meant to be celebrated.
But they can represent much more than simply the day of our birth.
We can reflect on life lessons learned, philosophies expanded and explored, and all the real beauty that has unfolded. We relax into the comfort of our aging skin -- finally learning to be ourselves. We renew the vow to never settle for anything less than our very best selves.
So, without further adieu, bring on my person’s year forty two.