Sunday, January 31, 2010

Turning 38

Today, I turn 38. What's the big deal? Not quite 40, definitely a "mature" 30....but for me, 38 signifies something more.

My mom was 38 when she died.

This is a milestone I've been grappling with for the past few months. A door I must go through, an unknown as I live longer than my mother did. It is also an event that triggers the grieving process again (even after 22 years). But it's also an opportunity to be very thankful for all that I am blessed with.

Hope Edelman, in her book "Letters from Motherless Daughters," writes:

Reaching the Magic Number (the age a mother was when she died) often triggers a grief response in a motherless woman. It's a time of both sadness and rebirth. The daughter fears leaving her mother behind - and may feel guilty for seeing years her mother never got to see - but also feels relieved that her destiny will differ from her mother's.

So here I am, freshly into this milestone year, slightly sad, but also reflecting on all that I have - a loving, amazing husband; three wonderful children; an extended family who loves me; deep, rewarding friendships all around the globe; a house that fits us well; and my faith which sustains me through everything that comes my way.

In the midst of this, another milestone happened last week. Ann-Marie was reading about Mt. Rushmore and I couldn't remember the fourth president (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and ......??????) so we sat in front of the computer and looked up Mt. Rushmore. As we were looking at pictures, I told Ann-Marie that I had been to Mt. Rushmore and that was the last family vacation we took before my mom died. At that moment, she looked at me and seriously asked, "How did your mom die?" I took a deep breath and asked back, "Do you really want to know?" She said that she did so I pulled up a picture of a combine (she's a city kid, she doesn't really know what a combine looks like) and explained in simple terms the farm accident that took my mom's life. She asked, "Who found her?" and I told her that Grandpa Shippy did. She asked, "Was she already dead?" and I said, "Yes." At this point we had a good cry together, and Ann-Marie said, "That's not fair." I told her no, it wasn't fair, but we're not guaranteed that life will always be fair. I also told her that she could always ask any questions to me and I would give her the truth, even if the truth was painful.

So it's been a pretty serious, deep week. But I'm ready to celebrate another year. No one knows what another year, much less a day, will bring, so I'm not alone in that aspect. This just helps me be in the moment more, appreciating each new day that comes.

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
Matthew 6:25-26


ANITA said...

This post is beautiful. In it, you are a daughter, a mother, and a believer. I admire all 3 aspects of you.

Happy Birthday

Linda said...

God bless you Paula and Happy Birthday!

Stephanie said...

I can't believe I talked to you yesterday and did not get to wish you a Happy Birthday!!!

Happy Birthday my dear, dear friend! You are wise, wonderful woman who is truly blessed by God! And you are a blessing to me and also to others.

Love, Stephanie