I love birthdays! And today is mine. It’s inevitable my Mom and I will sit and visit about memories that only she can recall; the actual day of my birth. I recall the celebrations.
Mom was just reminiscing back to my 9th birthday. We had traveled to Van Buren, Arkansas to see family friends. Doyle Williams, the dad, and my Dad were the best of friends. Their friendship provided for the bond that was formed with the mom, Linda, and their two girls Sara and Leslie. We spent time together more like cousins. And my 9th birthday wasn’t the first one we had celebrated together, but it was a special one to celebrate, because it was nearly two years post motorcycle accident, meaning it was also after the death of my brother, Jon. Birthdays were always special, but became even more precious to us after being impacted by my brother’s death almost two years earlier, when he was only nine years old.
Many people have difficulty with birthdays, because birthdays mean aging. And aging is synonymous with decline. My family loves to joke. I grew up with many one-liners. My Dad was quite witty and would get a laugh at the most unpredictable moments. I guess you could say that laughter was our medicine. And even though my Mom says this as a joke, there’s much truth in her words regarding birthdays, “It’s better than the alternative.” Kind of adjusts the view on aging.
But our bodies were never meant to last forever. The Lord never intended for this to be it. Hebrews 13:14 (NLT), “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.” Makes me want to sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.”
What makes birthdays so grand? What makes birthdays so special? Well, it’s not the day. It’s not the birthday occasion alone. People make birthdays special. Our family and our friends create the celebration. Without them, March 23rd is just another day on the calendar.
I asked Caden, my seven year-old what makes birthdays special. He answered, “Getting new things; spending time with my family; and having a party.” This prompted me to reflect back on my most memorable birthdays.
Like the one I had in the 8th Grade, my 14th birthday. The day began as every other, me in my bathroom, with the radio blaring, getting ready for school. I didn’t have too many birthdays in school, as many of them landed on spring break. But this particular year, I was in school, and it was my first year at my new school. During my morning routine, the DJ all of a sudden gave a shout out to a girl who had gotten a ton of calls to wish a happy birthday….Heather Cochrane! Oh my goodness! Then I got a call from another radio station before school with a birthday giveaway someone had submitted my name for. WOW! Once at school, my classmates made the day incredibly special. I got cards, like the one from my friend Brandon King, who was a funny guy. He gave me a “custom made” card by crossing out the word “Graduate,” so it would read, “Especially for you, Heather.” At the end of the day, a boy in my American History class stopped by my locker and gave me a note. This boy had hardly ever said anything to me. I waited to open the note and when I did, twenty dollars fell out and I read words that illustrated to me the reality of others observation. Wes Johnson stated the fact that we didn’t know each other very well, but when he found out it was my birthday he wanted to give me something. Although we never really spoke, he had evidently observed me enough to draw conclusions, and those appeared to be positive ones. Wes died from injuries sustained in a four-wheeler accident a year later. His words impacted my life to be intentional with others. He taught me you never know whose watching you and whose life you may be impacting.
My 30th birthday was incredibly memorable. I was once again in school, but not at all happy about it. I had signed up for a 3 to 11 clinical rotation. My clinical instructor was well worth the late schedule. She laid a strong foundation for my development as a nurse. But March 23rd 2011, I was bummed about being away from my kids while they were at school during the day and away from them that evening too. I really had to get my thoughts and heart in the right place to get to clinical that day. While there, my friend told me someone had sent flowers to the floor for me. They were from my sweet hubby! Later in the evening, everyone was ready to head down to eat dinner. Our group had mentioned early in the semester that we should all eat at Subway for the birthdays, but I had brought my lunch and insisted that we did not need to go for me. But my friends insisted more, and we headed down to the hospital’s Subway. When we walked in, there was my family!!! They were all there; all of them, my husband, my Mom, my Aunt Donna, and my Mom-in-law and Dad-in-law. My husband had coordinated with my precious friend, Kari Murphy and she arranged it with my clinical instructor, Ms. BDub, and the entire group! They were all in on it and I was completely surprised and it was the best birthday ever! Here I was having this milestone birthday and I didn’t think I’d even get to see my husband or kids all day, but there they were! It brings such joy to my heart still!
I couldn’t tell you the presents I unwrapped on these two very memorable birthdays. But I still experience the joy and happiness those birthdays brought to my heart. The greatest gift I was given was how others made me feel. One of my favorite quotes is from The Wizard when he says, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”―L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It’s so catchy. I see the relevance of that statement in occasions such as birthdays. The love I feel from each hug, from each wish, from each Facebook message, from the mere fact that others realize it’s my birthday and want to take a moment to acknowledge it, is insurmountable.
Today, my thirty-third birthday, my prayer is found in Psalm 39:4 (NLT),“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered- how fleeting my life is.”
Today, my thirty-third birthday, my heart rejoices with thanks for YOU……
For you, my family.
For you, my friends.
For you, my faithful readers.
For you who love me and support me, who challenge me and sharpen me, who celebrate these special times………much love and thanks to you!
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