Monday, February 8, 2010

My Birthday Gift

So last night I had a post all planned out in my head bemoaning the fact that on Friday, February 12 (this Friday) I would be turning 25 years old.  I was planning on writing and posting it today.

It's not that I don't like my birthday.  In fact, I usually am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of love and birthday wishes extended to me on facebook, through e-mail, texts and phone calls.  It's just that 25 seems so ... big.  It's a quarter of a century and I just feel that at this point in my life I should have it more together than I do right now.  It is not just the fact that I am turning 25.  It is that fact that this birthday is combined with my pending graduation (less than 100 days!!) and uncertain future (will I get into this CPE program, will I be passed through for ordination, how hard will it be for me to be called to a church once I am passed through, etc. etc.).  This birthday is serving as a reminder that I am making that transition from student (something I have done for all but three years of my life) to working adult (something I have never done) and I would be lying if I said that I was calm, cool and collected.  In fact - it is more accurate to say that I am terrified.

So the sarcastic post about my age, my quarter life crisis and the fact that for the next three months Bruce will be two years younger than me was all but written in my head as I fell asleep last night.  But before I got a chance to write it down today, something happened that made me see my forthcoming birthday differently.

I attended the memorial service of a student at the school of public health this afternoon (for those of you that don't know, I work in the office of student service's at Emory's school of public health).  He was a second year student, on track to graduate in May, was 27 years old and his death was unexpected and certainly untimely.  I sat in the back and watched his parents and his brother mourn during the service.  I listened to his friends talk about his sense of humor and the dean list off his impressive academic and professional accomplishments.  I turned to one of my co-workers and said, "No parent should ever have to bury their child."

This young man would have turned 28 in September.  And I don't know how he felt about birthdays - perhaps he thought the years were moving too quickly towards 30, maybe he loved the possibilities each new year will bring.  I don't know - I can only speculate.

But I do know that he will never celebrate another birthday with us again.  And at the moment that I realized this, I vowed never to complain, never to roll my eyes, never to whine or to throw a tantrum about a birthday (no matter how "big" it may be) ever again.  Life is short and it is full of the unexpected and I should treat each birthday - each new year - as a precious and fragile gift.

So there you have it - I am turning 25 in four days and I am already overwhelmed and humbled by what I have been given.

... And I am going to try to celebrate this week!!


  1. The past 25 years have been pretty good for planet earth. :)

    Also, two years is nothing. I'll be three years younger than Ali for the next 8 months!

  2. Happy Birthday, you should definitely celebrate!! But I know how you feel, being the elderly 28 years old that I am :)

    I'm sorry to hear about your friend.

  3. I officiated the service of a dear friend's younger brother yesterday. He was 20. I held their hands and their weight as they collapsed when they said their final goodbyes. I watched people I love cry while I had to be strong. But somehow in the midst God was there, and the entire room of almost 400 people left knowing God loved them and feeling more at peace than when they came. And they told me. I don't know what you do with that--when God works through you to inspire hope in the hopeless. Its something Candler "teaches" us to do, but I am still not sure how you handle it.

    All of that to say, that I feel for you. And maybe, while you're sitting there take special note of what "worked" and didn't work--sooner rather than later, you'll be the one running that memorial--given an awesome power. Praying for you!

  4. So true. I love bdays! I'll be 32 in March & you better believe i'll celebrate it! HAHA!

    Happy Birthday! :) :)

  5. Happy birthday! I'm pleased that you chose to view the life lesson you received and turned it into a positive - celebrate life. That's the attitude that will make you an excellent asset to the church.


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