Wednesday, September 9, 2009


That's how many candles should be on my cake today. If there were a cake.

I had planned to do a "gratefulness" post on my birthday, reflecting on all the things I'm grateful for about my life. But it's a little hard to feel grateful right now, with a husband presently bedridden by chemo.

So this will be a stream of consciousness post . . .

Here I am at about 6 weeks old. I actually have a newborn photo of myself, but it's packed away somewhere and not easily accessible at the moment. So this is the youngest photo I have at my fingertips. That's my great-grandmother holding me. She died when I was very young, probably 3 or 4 years old. I still have vague memories of her, though. And I remember her funeral.

So, I've lived through a lot in these 42 years. A tough childhood. An adolescence I wouldn't wish on anyone. Dabbling in drugs. Running away. An abusive 12-year-long first marriage that ended in death and tragedy. My dad's very sudden death. The estrangement from the rest of my original family. A second marriage that started out tenuous and grew to be the very anchor of my life. Six kids, including a spontaneous pair of twins and a baby diagnosed with Down syndrome. And now, a husband fighting cancer.

I was a cute little kid. Shy and smart. You know that "awkward" stage a lot of kids hit? I hit mine by the time I was about 8 years old. By then I had turned into a pretty ugly duckling. The blonde hair of my early childhood turned dirty dishwater, and my mother alternated between butchering it with home-haircuts and perming the shit out of it. I wore thick glasses and had horribly crooked teeth. I was painfully skinny. People often mistook me for a boy, even as old as 12 years old. Then I grew boobs, which was nice - at least people knew I was a girl. I finally got braces on my teeth and contact lenses when I was 15, and I suppose I started to bloom then. Not that I blossomed into the proverbial swan, but I started coming out of my shell (albeit with a chip on my shoulder).

I still feel like that awkward, ugly duckling so much of the time. Those feelings are difficult to shed.

So, 42 years old. It blows my mind. In my heart and my head, I still feel like I'm 17. Or maybe 20. You know, with some wisdom added in. I'm at the point where I feel a little stab when I have to admit how old I am. I've never been one to lie about my age, but if I were, I'd say I'm 34. That was a mighty fine age to be! Forty-two is okay . . . I mean, I don't feel any different today than I did yesterday. I don't have any crow's feet yet, but I do have these two lines between my eyebrows. Worry? Stress? Who knows.

So now? I just want Michael to get better. I want my kids to be happy and healthy. I want to love my friends and for them to love me. I want to write. I want to lose 5 pounds - or learn to be happy where I'm at on the scale. I want to read good books. I want to take a trip with my husband when this whole cancer thing is behind us.

This next year should be interesting.


grammyof13 said...

Happy BD Lisa. I'm 69 and I've taken a long hard look at my life til now. I've decided this - and it may be something you can use as well. I really don't remember anyone in my family who grew old successfully. Meaning, loving life, not really acting their age. What I saw was grumpy old people that didn't always smell good. People I didn't want to be around. So I've decided to start the trend for my generation as an example of growing old gracefully. We don't turn 70 or whatever age is old, and become an immediate sweet old woman. Being sweet begins as early as 40 or earlier.
You have a good life inspite of the garbage you had to climb over. In counting your blessings now, it tends to tip the scales in your favor with the success you have now. As for Michael - I'm praying 'this too shall pass' and that God give you strength to keep going in the face of it all.
PS - I feel 40!! not 69! AND Happpy Birthday!

Carla said...

This particular post gave me the chills and made me cry, Lisa. 42 years and going strong! You are a strong woman and I consider myself lucky to have you in my life! Like I said on FB, I hope all your birthday wishes comes true this year!

ashley said...

When I turned 35 six years ago, I was still waiting to feel like a grown-up. Having a child with Down syndrome taught me to embrace my inner child. Growing up is so overrated!

I'm just glad, like you, that I'm a better not-quite-grown-up now than I was during my teen years. Scary stuff I'm glad to have left behind.

Great post, very inspiring. Praying for your family!

Keri said...

Happy Birthday!

Lucie said...

9-9-9 what a cool day to have a birthday!
I turned 44 last month so I know how you feel. My oldest son just moved out for university and I don't feel old enough. I agree with your first poster- we can't erase what life has given us up'til
now- but we could become cool old ladies!
Let the second half of our lives begin!!!

Jennifer Zener said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheryl said...

Happy Birthday!!!!!!!!

Isn't chemo a funny thing....they make you sick so you can get better....crazy!

Larry said...

Happy Birthday fellow Virgo! Hope you have a good day and so something special for yourself and that we can share a drink on Friday when I celebrate No 41 :) Lisa

Tara Marie said...

Happy 42nd birthday to a phenomenal woman, whom I am so grateful to have 'met' on this journey called life. May today be a celebration of you, and the rest of your journey. I wish I could wave a wand and take Michaels cancer away......and know that the two of you will take that special vacation when this damn cancer is beat.

I celebrate a woman, who has faced so many difficult issues and come through it all with a Grace that is inspiring.

Many Blessings to you Lisa......

and Happy 42nd Birthday!!!