I made it to 40

I talked with my parents this morning and told my mom she doesn't seem nearly old enough to have a forty year old daughter.  And yet, she does!  Here I am.  I made it to forty.

When the brain tumor was diagnosed three years ago (or, precisely, two years and 352 days ago), I wondered if I'd make it to forty.  I'm really happy--and grateful--to be here.  Maybelle is four--another thing I wondered:  would I see my daughter this old?  My memories of childhood start around four, so I'm delighted that I'm part of Maybelle's life right now.

And my health is good!  This isn't the blog post announcing that I'm on the decline.  But I thought I'd be sort of honest here and share what I don't often share in person:  this birthday is important to me at least in part because it means I'm still alive.  My mortality is part of my consciousness a lot more than I let on.

Last night I got into bed and got to nestle next to a sleeping Maybelle (have I mentioned that we're doing the family bed these days?  We are.  Snuggle-bugging all night long).  I got to smell her lavender-shampoo hair, and her kind of funky breath, which I love.  I'm so grateful for her little warm body, and for her wide eyes and smile in the morning.  "First potty, then Lela and the girls*," she said this morning.  Excellent way to start the day.

She also wished me a happy birthday, when I prompted her.

I'm grateful for having such a powerful circle of friends.  My best friends in the world were here for my birthday weekend.  (We didn't get a picture together!  How is this possible?)  I've never had that happen before, and it was such a gift.  Their different strengths and talents were on display, from excellent questions to savvy reframing of difficult situations to warmth and teasing.  I felt like I was in the middle of...what...only goofy metaphors are coming to mind:  a vortex, a circle of uplift (Eliza:  come up with a better metaphor!).  And all of them love Maybelle, who can name them all and is perfectly happy to request that they pick her up, put her on their shoulders, take her to the potty, etc.

I'm grateful for Uncle Trey (his official name now, although that might be a bit creepy since he's my brother, not my uncle), who is attempting to overcome his fear of poo atoms and wipe Maybelle's bottom.  

And let me tell you how great my family is:  great!  I have a reliable source of unconditional love from Aaron and Mary, and my mom and dad.

With each new decade, I'm realizing more and more that life is a combination of things that are incredibly challenging and things that are wonderful.  They're both happening all the time, at the same time.  So today I'm going to try to focus on the wonderful stuff.  I'm wearing my "Han shot first" shirt.  I'm eating Hershey's candy cane kisses.  I'm going to have dinner with loved ones tonight and then watch Star Wars.  And I'm forty!

*Lela and the girls are her hand-me-down Groovy Girls.  Lela was initially her favorite, and the other three are "the girls."  Each one's name is "girl."  A bit like Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl.


Anonymous said...

Yay, happy 40 and welcome to the club. Isn't 1972 a great year to be born? I also worshipped Star Wars and wore my hair in Leia buns many a day. Hugh just watched it for the first time and liked it, but said at the end, "Where are the star wars?" Hmmm. We are also doing family bed much of the time. I've quit worrying about it. They're young and sweet and it won't last forever. Happy Birthday again, and may the force be with you.

Sarah Bush Jones said...

I love your choice to focus on the wonderful rather than challenging things. I think I'm going to try and work on that myself over the next few weeks. I'm so glad that Catherine was able to come visit and that your big surprise was a success. Happy birthday, Alison!

Elizabeth said...

Happy birthday, dear you. What a wonder you are -- spreading and radiating so much love. I'm grateful to know you in some small way --

Cate Bush said...

So glad that I was able to celebrate with you. I am very grateful you are alive! I love what Elizabeth said about what a wonder you are. Thank you for spreading and radiating so much love!

Cindi said...

Alison, you are one of the reasons I am proud to work at the College of Charleston. Thank you for your powerful positive force, your level-headedness, and your willingness to tell it like it is.

Alison said...

Thank you for all your wonderful wishes, Baxter Sez friends (as well as Facebook friends).

And Amanda, I'm so glad that we share the Star Wars love! And we share the family bed thing, too--how interesting. I had exactly the thought you had when Maybelle started joining us in bed: young, sweet, won't last forever. I'm enjoying it for now.

krlr said...

I am, selfishly, very glad you made it to 40 too. You make the internet a delightful inspiring place.
Happy, happy Birthday.