Birthdays are a great time to be somewhat reflective. I think back and cannot fathom the fact that I have been here, alive, on this earth, for 40 years. 40 used to be SO OOOLLLLDDDD... People in their 40s were decrepit and moving into the 'nearly useless' category. I'd like to think I was gravely mistaken (get the pun there? 'gravely'?? I crack myself up sometimes)
I would like to think I have learned a few things along the way; not that I am finished learning - not by a long shot, but hopefully I am a bit wiser than I was in my 'younger days'.
I have learned that that the human heart has a nearly infinite capacity to love. I remember being pregnant with Matthew and scared to death that I would not be able to love this unknown child anywhere near as much as I loved Parker. I had talked with friends, all of whom had more than one child, who assured me that I would love them all with the same depth and breadth and I could not believe it. It wasn't until I held that little squirmy bundle of joy for the first time that I started to understand what they meant... that just like my seemingly ever-expanding belly, my heart would stretch to encompass all those in my life.
I have learned that people generally rise to your expectations. I use this philosophy with my students who all have learning disabilities of one sort or another. I refuse to tell them they CAN"T do something, read Shakespeare, for example, and they continue to not only amaze me, but themselves as well.
I have learned that there are truly restorative powers in hot running water. I am so thankful to live in a time of not only indoor plumbing, but the hot water heater!
I have learned that there is no 'better' way to lose someone you love. You hear people say of a tragedy, "Well, at least they didn't suffer" and of someone who died of a lengthy illness, "Well, at least you got to say goodbye"... but the truth of it is that both ways suck. Losing someone you love is physically painful regardless of the way you lose them. It's a part of life, unfortunately, and we all seem to move ahead with our lives after a loss, but it hurts and it sucks and there is no 'better' way to go through it.
I have learned that some days just require chocolate. Or a martini.. or even a chocolate martini.
I have learned that, while meeting folks and developing friendships throughout your life is wonderful, nothing is better than hanging out with the people in your life who are more like family than friends. Typically, these are the ones you've known 'forever'.
I have also learned that, just like the definition of 'family' is changing with the time, so has the definition of friendship. There is no need to be close in proximity to someone for the bonds of friendship to be strong and tight. In fact, you can have these bonds with people you have never even met in person. I think that 15 years ago, had I said something like that, people would have discounted it or thought me a slight bit batty.. but it is now more commonplace to find 'internet only' friendships. You hear of people meeting, and falling in love over the internet. Some really great relationships have formed from cyber-space. I have noticed that, 10 years ago when I really immersed myself in an internet group, I had to qualify statements like "My friend from the internet".... and that has changed. Today, some of my dearest and best friends are 'internet only' friends, and I feel not only blessed to know them, but I could not imagine my life without them.
Makes me wonder what the next 40 years will hold.....