I’m in my local café enjoying the now traditional birthday gift of my in-laws: a credit at Sumach Espresso. They started doing this on my 50th birthday I think. It’s really lovely and thoughtful.
We all make at least a little more contact with those we know around our birthdays unless we actively avoid it. These brief conversations provide little touchstones: deciding what to share with people I used to know better but now see infrequently. And asking myself how I’m feeling.
I remember when I turned 23 thinking, “wow! At this age my dad had two kids and was working as the head of the English department at a high school.” I just couldn’t fathom it.
When I turned 27, I thought about the fact that, at the same age, my step-dad was in a relationship with an older woman, my mom, who had four kids ranging in age from 12 to 7. Absolutely beyond my comprehension.
This year, especially after the traumas of the past two years, I am thinking about the fact that my step-mom died from metastatic skin cancer at 56. Somewhere I still have the Mother’s Day card I bought and wrote in the last day I saw her alive. I never got to give it to her.
My situation is not so dire as hers. I have every reason to believe that I’ll be fine physically. However, part of my birthday coincidences was my first post-treatment CT scan. With any luck, there will be nothing to see, but I can’t help but be stressed about it. I honestly don’t know what I would do if it showed cancer. I’m not sure I can go through all that again.
I’m hoping that this winter I can begin to work through the trauma of the past two years and find a healthy way to be in the world again. I really thought I’d be well on my way by now, but I am more psychologically damaged than I thought I was. I hope and intend to put real effort into recovery mentally and physically this winter so that my next birthday is a more simple affair emotionally.
Till then, finding the small things to enable the bigger work, is the task day to day. Espresso. Visits with one or two friends. Doing tasks that I know I can manage. Sailing. Canoeing. Reading. Hoping to find enthusiasm and desire again.