I have never been big about celebrating my birthday- well, past the age of 12, maybe. I felt like it was unnecessarily drawing attention to myself. I felt guilty for making any sort of fuss about it. But this year? I’m CELEBRATING! In fact, I plan to celebrate every year after that too. God has blessed me with yet another day, another month, another year. There is a quote from the show How I Met Your Mother that I really liked. Kind of an embarrassing place to pull a quote from, but nonetheless, it stuck with me. Ted Mosby, the main character of the show, was in a car accident and said,
“…I was in the cab, and the car was coming at me, and you know how they say that your whole life flashes before your eyes in a near-death experience? It doesn’t. You don’t see everything. Just the things you love.”
He was so right. Much of the night Levi was born is hazy to me. But I do remember the moment I realized I was dying. I had never felt more frightened, guilty and confused than I had in that very moment. I wasn’t scared to die. I had the surest confidence in my faith. There is a God. He is just and merciful. He desires for me to be with him in Heaven. In fact, if anything, this moment helped my trust in God. I had always wondered what I may think on my death bed- if I’d have doubts that God is real, or that if He really loves me enough to welcome me into Paradise. Yet, I had no doubt. In fact, after being pushed a little by my sweet husband, I had just gone to the Sacrament of Reconciliation the week prior. My soul was ready, and yet, my heart wasn’t. I was scared not for where I was going, but for who I was leaving behind. I was feeling guilty not for wanting to stay, but for feeling like I would be abandoning Avery to raise our son on his own, and for leaving Levi without a mother. I was feeling confused, not if I could die in that hour or not, but why God would allow me to be taken now. It wasn’t my time. There were still hugs to be given, lessons to be learned and work left to be done.
I’ve realized a truth that can still feel like a hard pill to swallow sometimes: every good thing is a gift from God, including the amount of days we get to live. I say this with the confidence of Heaven still being our ultimate home, but our time on earth still being a gift. When my “life flashed before my eyes,” all I saw were Avery and Levi. They are gifts for today and not guarantees for tomorrow. I am beyond thankful for the time I have with them and all my loved ones now. We lose to Satan’s lies if we think we have been shortchanged in life, or when we compare ourselves so much to others that we think God doesn’t love us as much as them. This is all a lie. God bestows his love on us in different ways, and we certainly receive it in different ways. But every good thing we are each blessed with is a gift, not a right or something earned.
I’ve also learned these last 10 months that it’s okay to feel disappointed that our “plans” are sometimes not God’s plans. It doesn’t necessarily mean these desires that weren’t fulfilled weren’t virtuous and good, but it does mean there is another path God is laying out for us. So in other words, it’s okay for me to feel disappointment in not being able to have more biological children. It also doesn’t mean that I should “just be thankful.” There is grief here, and it’s okay to mourn a dream that was lost. But it also doesn’t mean I am “less blessed” than my friends who will go on to have multiple children. Life is a gift and life is a good. And God is goodness itself. I will balance the mourning with dancing, and live the part of my life I have still to live.
Every laugh, every embrace, every tear of joy and every good memory, I am celebrating this birthday- 28 years of it! Thank you God! Thank you for my life and everyone in it. Thank you for the gifts I have, and the gifts that will be revealed in your timing. Life is beautiful.