Sunday, August 05, 2007

Doxy's Big Day

Today is my birthday. I am 44 years old today---healthy, happy, and relatively sane---and pleased to be here to admit it.

Today I will visit my former, much-loved, parish in Washington, DC. A dear friend of mine, who now serves the U.S. Government in Africa, will be home on leave and will be preaching.

(The Holy Spirit is always giving me this kind of wonderful birthday present. Four years ago today, +Gene Robinson received the necessary consents for his elevation to the episcopacy.)

The kids and I will then attend a performance of The Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center, followed by dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant with a bevy of friends---including my ex-husband (the gay one) and *his* husband, and my wonderful boss. Then we travel to the beach for a few days of R&R. I’m lucky to be able to do all of this. (This is the good part about being a contractor…)

I know a lot of people who hate their birthdays, or at least pretend they do, but I am not among them. I love, love, LOVE my birthday! Since I was a teenager, it has been the family joke that the 4th of July constitutes the Opening Ceremony for Doxy’s birthday, and Labor Day is the Closing Ceremony.

In truth, I have a Birthday Season, rather than just one day. I joke that this is because I’m a Leo and we are all about people making a fuss over us. As often, and as grandly as possible.

But my love for my birthday is also about the fact---cliché though it may be---that every day is a precious gift, and this day is a reminder to be grateful for that.

I learned that lesson, as most people do, the hard way.

In 1997, I lost my beloved stepfather, Larry, to cancer. He was a salt-of-the-earth Mississippi boy---a yellow-dog Democrat who was so very eager to be a grandfather to my son. He was the first man who ever loved my mother the way she wanted and needed to be loved. Losing him was a dreadful blow to all of us. I still miss him terribly.

Larry died a week to the day after his 54th birthday. Since then, I have always said that every birthday spent above ground is a good one.

But I confess that---despite my oft-professed love for the 5th of August---for a long time, that motto sounded good, but it did not accurately reflect my feelings about my life. There were a number of birthdays where I felt that my best years were far behind me, and I mourned the passing---and the ravages---of time. I wrote about that here.

But, in the last year or so, everything in my life has changed. When I wrote that essay, “Eye of the Beholder,” I was thinking about how other people saw me. Now *I* am the beholder, and what I behold when I look at myself is precious and wonderful. Despite the crows’ feet and stretch marks. Despite the effects of gravity.

Because what I see now is a woman who has rediscovered what it means to be happy.

I am grateful for my life now. For my beautiful children, my friends (both “real” and “Invisible”), and my health. For love and laughter, poetry and music, lilies and hot tea in the mornings. For work I love and that I believe makes a difference in the world. For the grace of God that I experience in Morning Prayer, in the Eucharist, and in the faces of those who embody Christ for me. And---at long last--- for new beginnings and blessed hope for the future.

Oh, and for Jasper. Mustn’t forget the Furry One who has already brought so much joy into my life!


Sure, there are still things that frighten and worry me. There are the difficulties with my ex, with the job situation, and with being a single mom. I’m no Pollyanna.

But today is a day to celebrate. I am alive and will be surrounded by people I love. There are others I love, far away, who will also be with me in spirit…praying for me, as I do for them.

I wrap myself in all that love, and I am blessed.

I am 44 today. This is the first day of the rest of my life. Thanks be to God!