This year was a very special birthday. Most people don't know it, but I do try and set some living goals for myself. I originally set a goal to live long enough to raise my own children. This one I copied from my mother. She got her wish and with all my kids out of their teens now, I think I got mine. Sounding silly to you? I never understood her obsession with this small wish until I was a mother. I loved and still love my children so much that I wanted to be the one to bring them into adulthood, to be there to talk to them and encourage them and share.
I have had the opportunity many times to sit with my husband and happily discuss what we have accomplished as parents. There was always much love in our home. Unique in so many ways, yet somehow familiar to many, we are a happy, loving family. Our home was also a kind of beacon. We took in the kids who did not have it quite the same and parented them as needed. Like little flashes of light here and there, we changed a great deal of darkness for some.
When my one son was in Europe for school, my sister died. He had only been there a few weeks. He could not easily come home. When it happened it was such a shock. Her daughter called and in her sing song voice, she told me she had something to say, could I sit down. So I did. I immediately thought she was calling to tell me she was pregnant or something like that. The next words were not pleasant. " My mother died." Yes. What? From there was a cavalcade of emotion that nearly sank my ship. In a few moments time I had lived through the worst of it. Died in her sleep, no autopsy, she was sick with a flu or something. Later we were told it was her heart. How they knew that without an autopsy, we will never really know. She went on, her life was to be lived in her daughters. My sister was two years older than me. She was 56 at her death.
She was always two years older, not anymore. I am 57. As of yesterday, I reached a new age goal. I used to try and live until 66, at least until 66 I would tell myself. That is when my father passed away. He had been ill with recurring cancer. We knew it would happen. When this happened to my sister, my goal was different, I wanted very much to be 57. First, this number is a number that shows up many times in our lives, a kind of lucky one. Then it was the age my sister would never be, the very next year, the one that she was a few months shy of reaching.
So thoughts of this, ridiculous thoughts of this, occupied a small part of my mind since September. As the weeks and days grew closer to my birthday, I approached it with a kind of mixed feeling. I longed for some kind of talisman or stray bit of wisdom to invade my mind, to calm a growing anxiety. Finally over the weekend, I confessed my goal to my family and it was oddly welcomed. I was assured I would reach it and when my day came yesterday, my day to be 57, and I did reach my goal, my husband said to me, " I see you living a long life, just like your mother." I said it is okay, I am ready for when I am called, but "I am glad I made it to today, to 57." It is all bonus from here on out. I appreciate each day and will not waste any. Maybe I am finally able to put my sister to rest. I am the older one now.