On Turning 57


Last weekend was my birthday. Unlike a lot of people who try to ignore their birthday, I love my birthday. I look forward to them as eagerly as any six year old does. I think of my birthday as my own, personal New Year; an opportunity to celebrate all the life I’ve lived and look forward to all that the next year holds. I love taking the time to appreciate and give thanks for all that I have and all the people in my life.

This year, I had planned a rather low-key celebration and, as always, was really looking forward to the day. I woke up in time for church that Sunday and had a delightful time at the service. I got hugs and received smiles from so many friends, I am sure I had a silly grin on my face the entire time. Okay, there may have been some inappropriate giggling too, but that’s another story.

After church I was taken out to brunch by my good friend, Stacie. It’s taken us some time, but we’ve both gotten in the habit of putting our phones aside and not checking them until our time together is over. I can’t say I’ve never been guilty of the sin of paying more attention to my phone than the people I’m with, but I try really hard not to fall into the trap of prioritizing my phone over my friends.

Because my phone was in my purse and turned low, I didn’t realize I’d received a call from my alarm company. By the time I saw the message 15 minutes had elapsed. I looked across the table at Stacie and realized she is my backup person for the alarm system. Her phone was happily cradled in her purse, with the same message from my alarm company.

At that point in time, I knew that if someone had broken in, they had not only had time to leisurely decide what they wanted to take, they also had time to take a shower and fix a snack if they chose. I cancelled the call to the police and feeling a little concerned, but more irritated than anything, Stacie and I headed in our two cars to my apartment. As I suspected, my home had been untouched and all the locks were still firmly in place. Stacie went ahead of me through the apartment, hollering every step of the way to be sure if anyone was there they’d hear us. Not a peep. No one was there and it didn’t appear anyone had ever been there.

Stacie left and I decided to go tan. Yes, I know tanning can cause cancer, but it can also help clear up eczema and mine had been flaring up.  I tan for the minimal amount of time they recommend, so it was supposed to be just a quick drive there and back. I was looking forward to dinner with some friends and one of my daughters and I had just enough time to get there and back before I was supposed to meet everyone.

On my way home from the tanning salon, I came to an intersection that had flashing red lights in all directions. I waited my turn and was almost all the way across when I heard, and felt, a crash as my car was hit by a driver in the intersecting street. I was a little disoriented because I didn’t see her coming, and I was shaken by the incident, but I was okay. The other driver and her passenger were not injured either, and I am grateful no one was hurt.

To my dismay, the front passenger wheel of my car was now closer to a 45 degree angle rather than the normal 90 degree angle. My poor baby wasn’t going to go anywhere under her own power. I could not believe that the first car I ever, truly loved was so badly damaged.

While going through all the unpleasant details that a car wreck involves, I was surrounded by love and support from friends, family and strangers. A friend coincidentally called me right after the collision and came to the scene of the accident to be with me. The accident occurred in front of a store where a former yoga student of mine works, and she brought me not one, but two bottles of iced tea. As my car was being lifted onto the tow truck a complete stranger walked by and gave me a good, long hug in sympathy. Even in the moment, I was fully aware of how lucky I was to be so completely supported.

I’ve been in car accidents before and I have always been lucky enough to walk away from them. What I had forgotten is how vulnerable this type of thing leaves you. Because I didn’t see the car coming before it hit me, I am much more nervous now when I drive. At every stop sign or stop light I feel hesitant about moving forward, subconsciously expecting the jolt of being hit again. I know this will pass, but I also know it won’t pass as quickly as I would like.

The phrases “life is short,” or “no one’s promised tomorrow,” are used frequently and I try to keep an awareness of that in my everyday life. Being brought face to face with the knowledge that your whole world can change in a second without you having any control over it takes that awareness to a whole different level.

My blithe confidence has been shaken, I will be inconvenienced for a few weeks, I may be out some money and I may no longer have a car that has made me smile every time I looked at it. Thankfully, I am in a place in my life where I recognize none of this is really that important. What is important is the love and friendship I receive each and every day from the people in my life and from the universal energy that supports us all. Thank you for contributing to that support.

What are your thoughts?