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happy birthday to me…

happy birthday to me…

I haven’t always loved my birthday. To be quite honest, I have been more than a little disappointed in years past. My birthday was a letdown more often than not. I spent many years trying to figure out why it was usually a downer. I finally realized that I was filled with expectations of being celebrated, but when the day came and went, I’d be left with an unsettled, sort of sad feeling. Sometime in my late 20’s I decided to end the cycle of anticipation & letdown. People aren’t mind readers, after all. I was a young, single mom then. I didn’t have a hubby or boyfriend to help Mason remember my birthday, or take him shopping. It was up to me to teach him how to celebrate people on their special days, including his mama.  Instead of waiting for someone to notice me, to celebrate me, to spoil me, I determined to do it myself.

I decided that I would throw my own birthday parties and treat my friends to some fun activities, and send them home with party favors. This solved the ‘yucky birthday’ problem instantly. I never had to hope for something or be let down when it didn’t happen. I just created my own celebration and invited friends who were in my circle at the time. Those faces changed over the years, as people move on or move away, and friendships evolved but I always had a core group with me. One friend even shared with me, “I like your birthdays better than my own!” That thrilled me to no end!

Some years I planned a simple dinner, other years would be more elaborate (little black dress parties, scavenger hunts, etc.).  One of my faves was when I turned 35… I had a ‘Pedi Party’ instead of a pity party. It really made me laugh at my own clever play on words. Still does. I invited girlfriends to join me for a pedi (my treat), gave each of them a custom cupcake to snack on while being scrubbed and polished. We sipped mimosas, and gabbed and laughed as girlfriends so love to do! Then we went to Starbucks and they opened their ‘party favors’ which were just little gifties that I had purchased for each of them as a token of my appreciation for their friendship. Ahhhh, the memories. There have been a few more birthdays since then, each with its own theme and fun adventures. I’ve successfully broken the ‘yucky birthday’ pattern, and now I love my birthdays soooooo much.

Mason always played a part in my birthdays, and usually went shopping with one of my friends to pick out something special for me. My friends would foot the bill and I would reimburse them after the shopping spree. It was a cool system for a single mama. It worked. Mase got to pick out things he thought I would like, and I got to be surprised with his thoughtfulness and unique choices. One year he got me an orange pea coat from Old Navy… um, orange??? My friend tried to steer him toward navy or black, but he insisted on orange. He said I looked good in orange. Ha! (Well, I do!) Another year, he got me a very sparkly cross necklace (it wasn’t my style at all… but I wore it multiple times, faithfully declaring my love for his gift. Moms understand.) Last year, Mason left his friend’s house in favor of going to lunch with his mama… it just melted my heart. We went to Town Square and shopped afterwards, and he bought me Godiva chocolate and Brighton jewelry. Hollaaaaaa!!!!! My boy had excellent taste.

This year, Mason and I had planned to take a cruise. I love to travel and always have an itch to be on the road, seeing the world. In December of 2012, I booked a Central America cruise for my 2013 birthday and Mason and I began making plans for how we would cover his homework when he ditched two weeks of high school! Hahaha! Priorities, people. Birthdays are more important than homework. We were mostly excited about ziplining… the last time we took a cruise Mase was too young to zipline so we passed on that activity. This year, he was a 6 foot tall, 144 pound man-child and was old enough and certainly big enough to do everything. The plan was to zipline together in Costa Rica! How exciting!

Sometimes, life doesn’t go according to plan, and we are forced to adjust to new realities whether we like it or not. Mason is no longer my travel partner. He is no longer here to surprise me with unique, special gifts. He’ll never again have lunch with me at our favorite place, or buy me my favorite chocolates. I don’t know how that can possibly be true, and yet it is my reality. As my 40th birthday approaches, I am reminded of all of the sweet moments I shared with Mason…the special occasions we had together, the love we shared for celebrations. I didn’t know last year was our last year. I didn’t know when he was practically laying on me in that restaurant booth, and we were giggling about how he loved to be ON me all the time, that it would be my last birthday with him. I didn’t have any idea then how my body would ache for that boy to lay on me, hug me, and lean on me. I thought I’d have that boy forever. What I would give for just one minute more…

mason 11 bday           mason 11 bday2

So this birthday is bittersweet. It is tragically, horribly devastating and at the same time it is joyful, sweet, and special. I had every intention of canceling the cruise. If it was up to me, I’d be lying in bed, blinds shut, watching Netflix and using up a box of tissues. My dear friends Taunia, Jennifer, and Leslie decided otherwise. Taunia took Mason’s spot as my travel buddy, and Jen & Leslie joined in on the cruise. They decided that it would be good for me to go, and they would be there to support me, celebrate with me, even zipline with me. It’s disorienting for me to be doing this without Mason, but then that can be said about every single thing I have done since June 3rd.  Life goes on. Well, some lives go on. I have to keep moving. I have to keep breathing. I have to keep living.

I’m leaving today. I’m going to see cities and countries I have never seen before. I am going to snorkel in Cabo, zipline in Costa Rica, and even ride a Segway through Cartagena. I’m going to plaster a smile on my face and take deep breaths when I feel like crying. I am going to laugh my head off with three of my amazing friends. (I have a few fun adventures planned for days when we don’t leave the ship… I’ll fill you in later on that. I don’t want to spoil their surprise.) Some days I can barely get through my morning coffee without bawling. Some days I actually have the energy to visit a friend, enjoy an evening out, and laugh like I used to. It’s a funny thing this journey called Life. It is unpredictable, treacherous, and sometimes quite debilitating. I am navigating it the only way I know how: moment by moment.

They say ‘Life begins at 40’ but I don’t think this is what they meant.

My birthday wish this year is that I will learn to live in a way I have never, ever lived. I want to laugh again. It’s such an important part of who I was created to be. I need to find my laughter again, my true deep joyful laughter. I want to breathe deeply, without pain. I want to shed fewer tears. I want to give more, do more, love more, serve more. I want to be a blessing to every single person who crosses my path. I want to make an impact. I want the next forty years to be deeper, richer and truer than my first forty. I want to find my purpose in this world and blow it up! I want to thrive, and help others live their absolute best lives. I want the days to fly by and I cannot wait to hug my son again… but until then, I want to make every single second count.

Make a wish with me on November 10th… xoxo!

holly 39 bday

13 Comments
  • Debbie
    Posted at 20:31h, 26 October Reply

    I will definitely be making a wish with you on your birthday Holly! Safe & happy travels.

  • TINA
    Posted at 20:58h, 26 October Reply

    Holly, You are going to have a wonderful time! Be carefree and let loose. Remember what happens on a cruise ship stays on a cruise! Love you so much!

  • Julie
    Posted at 22:59h, 26 October Reply

    Holly….I know you will have an amazing time! I only wish I could be with you on that cruise! Happy, Happy Birthday Holly & have the most fantastic time of your life….think of you often 🙂

  • Marty Boyd
    Posted at 01:32h, 27 October Reply

    I will be wishing you Holly a very Happy Birthday on Nov. 10th. And praying for your wishes my dear to help you thru this for another year. You will smile more remembering all those special memories, and yes the tears will come but they do get fewer over the years, but as Mothers we will never be free of them, you’ll find that special place in your heart to store them all, for another day..My hope for you is soak up all that love those girls are giving you that’s the best medicine I know..Marty

  • Eloise Boshers Ross
    Posted at 03:40h, 27 October Reply

    Holly–I have been following things that you have posted. Many times I wanted to write something back to you ,but could never find the right words–all I could do was cry. You are such a strong lady and an inspiration to me. Words,I guess help-however there is no word that can describe how deep your pain has been. I want you to know I do think about you and wish there were someway to help you–actually you have helped all of us. You have some wonderful friends and I can see why.
    Bless you on your Birthday and know that you have contribute more to the world than anyone I know.
    My son Howard has the same Birthday as you– November 10th.
    My love to a wonderful, brave sweet lady.
    Eloise

  • Christina
    Posted at 14:47h, 27 October Reply

    Hey beautiful lady! I love you more than words can say my friend, and I pray for you every day for healing and happiness and things that will make you laugh so hard you practically pee your pants. For joy that finds it’s way through and wonderful memories of lighter and brighter days. I remember your last birthday party too. . The “Pink” party at Blue Martini…. fun scavenger hunts and lots of silliness…. good times! Jen, Taunia and Leslie are three amazing and beautiful women ….I know this birthday cruise will be phenomenal. Not sure what city you will be in on Nov 10th but I will definitely be thinking of you and laughing and lifting a glass in your honor…..Cheers Hollygurl! xoxox

  • Donna K Wallace
    Posted at 18:20h, 27 October Reply

    Holly, my dear. Know that I am joining your sweet friends and am holding you tight and sending my birthday wishes while you zip down that line in Costa Rica and keep putting one foot in front of the other each day.

    You are the kind of girl who learned to live early on and you keep choosing each day, without waiting for others…and then the real secret: you invite others to join you! Girl, you grab my heart and don’t let go. Thank you for the gift of YOU!

  • Ashley
    Posted at 04:55h, 28 October Reply

    Thank you Holly for sharing your story!! You are an inspiration!! Love you and am praying for strength and for an incredible birthday!!!!
    Xoxo
    Ashley (Greer) Silverii

  • tyrhone
    Posted at 15:15h, 28 October Reply

    Beautifully written as always Holly. See you soon 🙂

  • Stacey
    Posted at 21:08h, 28 October Reply

    Have a wonderful time, Holly! I am so excited for you and the girls! I am happy that you are still going. You are blessed with some amazing friends. We love to see you laugh, but more importantly, we are here for you on the days you don’t feel like laughing, or even smiling, for that matter. Wishing you lots of love and laughs on this vacation. Make lots of memories!!!! xoxoxo

  • Pingback:And then, I really lost my shit... » Sarah Somewhere Travel Blog
    Posted at 22:56h, 06 November Reply

    […] had overcome (literally) an eleven hour climb over the Sierra Madre mountains to Huatulco to meet my sister Holly’s cruise ship, then the uninspiring nine hour drive to the equally uninspiring city of Villahermosa (sorry guys, […]

  • Lauren @ roamingtheworld
    Posted at 07:57h, 07 November Reply

    Holly- you have brought me to tears!
    I’ve been reading Sarah’s blog for some time and saw the link to yours and I’m just been reading and reading your story and Mason’s. I don’t have any words except to say I’m so sorry to hear what you are enduring. You are brave and courageous. You’re incredible and amazing.
    I’m so happy you’re going on the cruise!
    May it be filled with laughter and some good unexpected moments.
    And keep writing… It’s beautiful!

    p.s. turns out your birthday is the same as my mom’s!

  • Debbie
    Posted at 16:47h, 10 November Reply

    Wishing so much for you today Holly. Happy birthday and big hugs to you. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. xoxo

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