Birthdays take on a slightly different meaning around here.
I was just shy of turning six months old when my parents received my grim prognosis. With very little access to the Internet, they were told very little about this disease and were left in the dark to care for their terminally ill daughter. Because of the severity of my condition, they were told I wouldn’t live past the age of two. However, as the doctor left my house that one dismal day in April, he looked at my parents and said, “but, I believe in miracles.”
With heavy hearts, my parents decided to have a birthday party for me a few days later- to celebrate my six-month mark. They feared I wouldn’t live to see my first birthday; so, they bought a cake, invited over a few family members, and through tears and profound sadness, found the courage to laugh and smile that day. What they didn’t understand yet, though, was that day would be the beginning of many more birthday blessings (and cakes!) to come.
Yesterday, I turned 25 years old, and I think 25 is one of those years where you kind of just stop what you’re doing and take a minute to reflect. Some may call this birthday the time for a quarter-life crisis, but that didn’t happen here. Unless you consider impulsively chopping your hair off to be a quarter-life crisis, then in which case, yes, I totally had one. But, I think many people consider 25 to be that age where you literally question everything in existence and everything you’ve ever believed in and wonder where the hell your life is headed. That just wasn’t the case for me.
Instead, I woke up yesterday, looked down at the floor at my birthday Wish (who inconsiderately woke me up at 6am), and felt grateful. I looked back at my life and thought about every moment that led me to the here and now. Every illness that kicked me down but only ended up making me stronger, every accomplishment I never thought I’d make in fear I wouldn’t see tomorrow, and every person who has made my life a little more special has all led me to the person I am today. This isn’t a quarter-life crisis at all, I thought. It’s a quarter-life blessing.
So, yesterday, we celebrated. I gathered my closest friends, cleaned up the pooches, and hosted a Disney/WISH Upon A Star/Vince Charming themed party- photo booth obviously included. There was no place in the world I’d rather be than with the people who have always loved me and seen right past my disability for who I really am. Compared to decades ago on that fateful day in April, yesterday’s birthday celebration took on a whole new meaning- one that will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime. As I went to bed after having the most remarkable day yesterday, I realized the miracle isn’t that I’ve lived to see another year. The miracle is that I was given the best friends and family to share another year with.