Special days should be celebrated with family and friends. Birthday moments that touch you with their joy and the feeling of warmth are especially important, for they leave you with a sense of well-being. But it’s equally necessary to look at these moments in a prism that makes up the good and the less-than-desirable.
Two days ago, I turned 39. I’ve officially crossed the threshold into the realm of middle-age. That’s assuming that I’d live to 80, of course. Let’s be positive and say I will.
The first few months of 2017 haven’t been too kind on the health front. I confess it rattled me considerably and threw me off base. It’s easy to wonder at the meaning of life and count your blessings when things are going well. It becomes especially difficult when you aren’t in the pink of health. What this did for me, personally, was helped me take stock of life, the relationships I enjoyed and how my focus needed to shift completely to the things that really matter.
On the morning of my birthday, I was up at 4.30 a.m. Without the help of an alarm, I sat up in bed, stretched my arms into the inky blackness of the bedroom. My feet then padded across the wooden flooring of my bedroom to the French windows that opened to a view of a tall spire of the temple nearby. The warm glow that it shed seemed to reach out and embrace my soul as I folded my hands in prayer.
Silence at dawn can be a beautiful thing. Softly, without waking anyone else, I slipped on my walking shoes and went for a morning stroll at 5 am. Before the world arises to greet the day,there’s something incredibly soothing. In the rush that envelops us as we flit from bed to table, we rarely breathe. Standing in the cool dew, letting it filter into my being is a feeling I hope I shall continue to savour for many years to come.
As the day progressed, I was greeted by pings on Whatsapp from friends and family. Opening Facebook and Twitter made me smile all day as the wishes kept pouring in, from people I’d met just once to the ones I’d known for a few months to the friendships that had endured the test of time, distance and everything in between. Calls began flowing in through the day with the first one as always coming from my mom. Have I told you how she wants to be the first one to wish me always? Every year? It’s a simple and child-like joy that makes her happy.
A warm hug, reassuring in its gentleness and love, from the husband had me giving gratitude for one of the best people in my life. A sprightly hug and a wet kiss from my daughter filled me with such joy that I needed nothing else. A hilarious sing-song wish from my sister, the maddest and best person I could have asked for as a sibling, sealed the deal.
But it wasn’t over. The wishes continued coming in and I was touched and truly overwhelmed by the flood of wishes that continue even till today. Cousins, aunts, uncles, college friends with whom I share a bond that is unbreakable, bloggers who are more than connections in a virtual sense, hostel mates whom I cherish for the souls that they are, parenting buddies who stand by me in my testing times, neighbours who have morphed into kindred souls- each and every wish is a testament to the power of love.
Ten years old that she is, my daughter wanted me to cut a cake. I smiled and told her I was too old for cake but she insisted. She said we should go to a place that would bring me a cake and play the birthday song over the speakers. To her delight and to my eternal embarrassment, she got both her wishes. The whole restaurant turned to see a 39-year-old woman blow out a candle and cut into a slice of chocolate cake! At that instant I wanted to crawl under the table but looking back I realise I’ll never forget the joy on my daughter’s face. Surely that’s worth every bit of embarrassment.
My daughter made this heartwarming power point to express her love for me. Am I not the most blessed person in the world? Gy, when you read this many years from now, I want you to know that this has possibly been the best gift I have ever received, from anyone. The love you poured into this is so overwhelming that I am so grateful for you in my life.
As I wound down the day by responding personally to every message on my Facebook timeline, I wondered what it was that made people care about me. I’ve always thought of myself as a person who is rather lazy when it comes to actual, on-the-ground work. I rarely step out of the house, primarily because I detest traffic. Being an introvert, I keep to myself in family events and social gatherings unless I feel really, really comfortable to open up.
So it is with sheer love that I reflect on the blessings in my life today. A friend of mine had this to say when I told her I don’t deserve all this love and I wonder why people love me.
You’re unselfish. You share so much of yourself- freely.
Sometimes, that’s all one needs.
It’s a reminder that the things we do are not always the grand gestures or the obvious things. Sometimes, it’s the little things that add up to make people happy.
Raising a toast to a birthday that makes me happy to be alive, awake and aware that it takes a village to raise a child and that it also takes a village to make a grown woman feel loved, happy and blessed.
Thank you, everyone.
*Featured image courtesy Shutterstock