I'm 41 today, it's not exactly a milestone birthday I know, but this is a tough one.
Birthdays have always seemed slightly weird to me. When I was a child I eschewed traditional celebrations, I didn't want a birthday party. Instead we usually went as a family to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach to ride the wooden roller coaster and whatever other new rides they had.
When I turned 21 I didn't have a party. Instead I got a more expensive present (my first ever c.d. player) and a small group of us went out to eat at Oscars - an American themed restaurant in Norwich that closed up years ago. I remember feeling so cosmopolitan as I ordered my Mushroom and Red Wine Burger, and I remember the deterioration into general silliness as we made each other consume large metal spoons with Ice Cream and Black Peppercorns on them - it made sense at the time.
So how am I celebrating my birthday today? Any thrill rides? Exotic food combinations?
I am having lunch with my Financial Advisor.
And tonight I have a costume fitting and a three hour rehearsal for Urinetown.
Last year I had a birthday weekend, boardgames and a big potluck party.
Then I flew to England for the last week of my Mother's life. :(
I think that's why my birthday has kind of slid by this time. I find myself thinking about 'this time last year'. Replaying the events of that very emotionally charged time. And I find myself feeling sad, and wistful and in surprise at how much my life has changed in One Year - heck I never even had need of a Financial Advisor a year ago.
When I worked for the Wesley Foundation in Lubbock we would do the same pattern each day of Holy Week, a lunch time study where a different staff member would walk us through what Jesus did that day. It became our way of entering into the Passion Narratives - even if everyone would try and avoid having to lead the study the day Jesus cursed the Fig Tree.
But in the midst of the anguish and darkness of the Cross, we always knew that Sunday was coming - the Resurrection was around the corner and the story would have a happy ending.
Not so the week I am about to walk through. My mother's 'Passion' was a messy death with no surprise ending. It was a roller coaster of emotions. It was a 'thrill ride' that had it's humorous moments (generally provided unintentionally by my brother) but it was ultimately a horrible experience, and I was so glad I was there.
I wonder if the disciples sat around a year after Jesus' death and resurrection and reflected on how different their world had become?
I just read through all my old blog posts concerning the last week of my Mum's life and had a little weep in my office - it's my birthday, so if I want to be emotionally melodramatic and throw myself a Pity Party at least it means I get a Party. I was going to type about how I'm going to 'pull myself together' and 'cheer up'. But no, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to experience all the emotions I'm having without labeling them as 'Good' or 'Bad' and I'm acknowledge that the depth that I grieve is a reflection of the depth that I love.
It's my birthday - and I wouldn't be here today without Mum, so it seems appropriate that I allow myself to mourn her a little today.
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday to me
Happy Birthday dear Peter
Happy birthday to me