My 40th birthday was coming and I still wasn’t cured, and so I was not happy. Things had not turned out the way I thought they were supposed to. I pictured a very different life indeed.
I didn’t know what I was going to do for my historic day nor did I know what I was going to be capable of doing. Be positive Trish! We make our fate!
Hubby wanted to do something and celebrate. But he didn’t know what to do or what to say either. Does he make a big thing if it and then if I it all goes bad we feel terrible? Or does he plan something simple and risk making my 40th birthday feel too ordinary? Risk it becoming just like any other day. These are the choices you have when you are chronically and unpredictably ill.
Slowly but surely my friends were turning 40 all around me. The pictures were being splashed across Facebook almost daily; or so it felt. I was both happy and sad. Part of me wished I was there to help celebrate with my friends and the other part of me was glad to be so far away from it all that I wouldn’t feel even more disappointed and alone. Alone amongst friends. Well friends. Healthy friends. Partying friends. Enjoying life friends.
So on the days leading up to my birthday my hubby asked me straight, “How should we do this?” I said “I don’t know”. But we had to prepare ourselves for my worst day, right? That is always the plan. When we go somewhere we pack for my worst day. When we plan something, we plan for my worst day and that way we wont be caught out. You have to be always planning for the worst moment even on the most important days of your life. We get so few special days and this was to be my 40th birthday. A milestone in anyone’s life. Its not supposed to be a plan for the worst day.
It’s hard to tell someone who doesn’t have an illness, let alone one that lasts forever, that a permanent filter has been placed over all that you are and all that you do. You see the worst days and the best days happening at the same time. Always having to prepare for one and yet reach for the other.
So I did. I prepared for one and reached, hoped and begged for the other.
I rested. And I tried so hard to be more. I wanted to be more SO badly.
On the day of my birthday I woke late and as I slowly opened my eyes I realized with terrible sadness that my pain was all through my body and it was not going to give me a day, not even one day, not even my birthday. I got up slowly, moved slowly to the bathroom and then I resolved to push. I PUSHED and I PUSHED. I pushed myself to shower. I pushed myself to dress. I pushed myself to do my hair nicely and makeup as nicely as I could. I pushed myself hard and I pushed myself too far.
Slowly but surely it all came crashing back down like a sand castle when the tide comes back in. The waves washing away any hope I had for a picture to pin on Facebook. With tears streaming down my face I climbed back into bed and the fun day of going shopping for a present, and having a special dinner in my honour, in a nice restaurant, became heat packs, OxyContin and a bucket beside the bed.
Hubby worked so hard to try and bring a smile back that day that he even found somewhere to buy 40, yes 40, red roses!
That’s what a Chronic Birthday really is. Its being able to accept anything and everything that comes your way. The pain AND the roses.
As I lay there admiring the beautiful roses and the amazing thing my husband had done he started putting them in little vases all around the bedroom. He gently placed them on cupboards and on bedside tables. At one point he stopped and said “So beautiful… and yet no scent…sad really”. I thought to myself, so much of life is for show but what makes them special or precious are usually the things that are so subtle and intangible that it really is the little things that mean the most.
My husband and I work hard everyday to enjoy the little things. Instead of having one big day. One big moment. One big event to put on Facebook, we work at finding something nice about every day. Some nice things in every day. Not everyday is my 40th birthday but everyday can be something that I can share with the people I love. Since I will never know what I can do tomorrow or if I will get worse, it makes me look and try to find something that I can enjoy about today, for as long as I can. By turning ordinary things in life into the things that make us laugh, smile, and live. This was my 40th birthday present and the gift I have been opening up every day since…
Since that day my husband and I have planted 40 rose bushes but I don’t think we will stop until we do; that’s another thing that turning 40 did, it made me look at Roses in a completely new way.