As I was running around my house the other day looking for a computer disc, my scattered and haphazard desk resembles more of a collage of skewed papers and bills than a place where work occurs, I came across a pink envelope with the ever familiar handwriting which stopped me dead in my tracks. It was the last birthday card I had ever received from my dad. I sat down on the floor and I re-read the card that I had read probably 100 times since his death. It was simple, nothing life shattering but in his handwriting said, "To my beautiful daughter on her birthday, I love you more than words can express." As old memories rolled over me like waves of the sea; tears just began to stream down my face. It has been 3 years since I have received a birthday card from my dad and as I prepare for yet another candle on the cake, I think about how far I have come over those last 30 years and the lessons I continue to learn.
Love is real. I think growing up I had this fairy tale belief in love. That it was all about prince charmings and happy ever afters. Yet, what I have learned is that love is raw, big, and at times desperate. I re-live the moments of my father's last months of life and I feel nothing but warmth. It is the quilt that covers you when nothing else will keep you warm. It is my father's best friend who slept on the couch, while my father slept in his hospital bed, so that my mother and I could get sleep. It is the phone call from friends for no reason. It is the look on the groom's face, as my best friend walks down the aisle. This kind of love changes people, it changed me, and I can never be more grateful.
I used to have a real problem when I was little. I talked to all sorts of strangers all the time. My mom would look away for a second and the next I would be chatting with a stranger in the middle of the women's department at Macy's. It is a miracle I wasn't abducted and the face of the missing child on the milk carton. I believe that this ability to talk openly and honestly has allowed me to build meaningful relationships. My friends are my greatest assets. They are my family, they are the brothers and sisters I never had. They give my life substance. I find delight in their successes.
I used to be a different person growing up. I was so intense and focused that I couldn't see the bigger picture. I learned that success is a personal measure, not a societal goal. That what is important in life, is what you deem worthy of importance. There is no substitute for family. You can never have too many friends, and laughter can change everything. That half the fat ice cream will never be as good as the real thing. That a good cry is cathartic and can remind you that you are alive. Against popular opinion you can listen to Christmas music any season.
I sure do hope that in the next 30 years I will get better at saying the things I want to say, regardless if the answer is not what I want to hear. I hope that I will be able to decipher between the moments that truly matter and the ones that don't. I hope that the walls of my home will reverberate with the sound of children's laughter. I want to look in the mirror and know I am beautiful at any age. I want to believe that life is full of endless possibilities, and that your glass can be infinitely half full.
For now I smile, because all I know is how truly blessed I feel in this moment to have family and friends who love me, the opportunity to have a job that takes care of people, and how at peace I am with adding another candle to the cake.
I love you all