Monday, June 13, 2016

My HALF Birthday: A Celebration of Life in the Face of the Unthinkable


Today is my half birthday. Monumental-in-my-mind. I'm fifty-nine and a half! Why go public with my actual, factual age? So many reasons! After yesterday. After Orlando. 
Every additional day of life is something to celebrate, something to cling to, something to appreciate and savor. I have been watching with glee as I have approached this personal milestone. And NOW, today, the day, one day after Orlando, after the unthinkable, following the unimaginable? I have reached this day of celebration. MY day. I am going to claim it. I am going to own it. I am going to share it.

You may not know this about me, but I am a TWO time survivor of early stage Breast Cancer. That has involved a series or biopsies and surgeries, and 36 trips to the hospital for 31 doses of radiation, culminating in a bilateral mastectomy and being scarred from armpit to armpit, {NOT pretty} complications from surgery that amounted to months and months and months and months of physical therapy to regain the use of my right arm and constant concern-treatment for lymphedema [also in the shallow end of the pool] and most recently being fitted for my own personal prosthetic silicone Barbie Boobies built-in-a-bra.
When I was awaiting my BC diagnosis, I was given a pamphlet about BCO (BreastCancer.org) and my sanity was restored. My first job was to select a user-name. I thought for about 59.5 seconds and said to myself, "Well going into this I have my faith and I just turned 50." So with that much thought that became my user-name: faithandfifty.
And amazing things happened.
I kept living. I met amazing women. I became part of their story and they became part of mine. Most notably there was the "Faith and Saint" story, but that would require a book. Short version: I have my own guardian angel. She is 'my people.' If you look closely at the photograph of the two of us in Chicago, she came to help me at a workshop and she wrote on her name tag, 'my people'..... because she wanted me to know that she had my back and that I had 'my people' with me. That seems like a long time ago and like yesterday all as one gooey mash up. She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me laugh some more. 


So today is my half birthday. I have ALWAYS celebrated half birthdays! Ask my daughters about some of their HALF birthday celebrations. I've been known to make MORE of a fuss over a half birthday, when it is least expected, than an actual date-of-birth. So much more fun. And today it is mine. My half birthday. Fifty nine and a HALF. Claim it. Own it. Share it. Celebrate it.
On my next birthday, I will be SIXTY, I will become faithandsixty..... assuming those days continue to accumulate -- one at a time. Today. On June 13th, in 2016, on Planet Earth, it is all too easy to see how so very abruptly, one can no longer assume that one will have one more day. Orlando. Sandy Hook. Add to that the fickleness of a misplaced stop sign, a falling grand piano or cells that run amuck. There is no guarantee. There never has been. But on June 13th, there are glaring realities of the unthinkable in every.single.headline.
So it is with great exuberance that I implore you to join me in celebrating being alive! 
Take back the living of life from the hate monger. Take back life from the errant cells. 
I ask you to raise your cupcake, pick a daisy, watch the clouds billow, smell some lilacs, taste a fresh strawberry, salsa dance with abandon, watch your child splash in a puddle, quack like a duck, dart like a hummingbird, and go ahead and plant that tree, draw a doodle, finish your iMovie and get it uploaded, lick the beaters, exhale, sing in the shower, skip some stones, cry over a favorite classic tear jerker, go for the gusto, call your mom, fill out the forms, write the grant, fold the laundry, practice your saxophone, do a cartwheel, seek your scholarship, read a poem, open your own business, pack your suitcase, weed your garden, paint your nails, visit a cemetery, go skydiving, lick an ice cream cone, soak in the hot tub, fill your memory card, smile at a stranger, do the right thing, quilt a square, buy the ticket, pay-it-forward, tour a museum, laugh until it hurts, rewind, stroll, forgive, slam dunk, drink from the hose, open an account on Match.com or all of the above.
Feel free to leave a note below and tell me how you celebrated my half birthday. You have my permission to share at the hashtag:
‪#‎FaithAndFiftyNinePointFive‬ ‪#‎SorryNotSorryForTheLengthyHashtag‬
BTW: My best BCO friends have shortened my nick-name to faithie.
Those of us that are indeed "people of faith" MUST use the sorrow of yesterday to shine the light of the rainbow prism into the midst of that greatest darkness, and reclaim today, by the grace of God. We can not wait another day. We must act today. 
We simply must rise up, shoulder-to-shoulder and reclaim this moment by sharing our story, by sharing the ugly details, and share our own story of triumph over sorrow. We have to cast away that sorrow..... and get to the happy ending part, where the rainbow rises above. Where good triumphs. Where the promise reigns supreme. We must live a life where we do indeed love our neighbors as ourselves. Everyone on the block. All of our neighbors. 


The rainbow that is within reach, shining at the very heart of the intersection of darkness and hope must be carried forth into the grocery story, the roller skating rink, the elementary school classroom, the farmer's market, the neighborhood cook-out and the sanctuaries that are found in churches, synagogues and mosques alike. We must, as people of reason and hope, as believing believers unite against the darkness of hate and evil. We simply must rise up and overcome. We must speak up. We must stare down. We must be both brave and child-like. We must hold hands together and sing a new chorus of KumBaYa. Literally. #KumBaYa.
We simply must use our circle of influence for the good. We must use our social media, we must use our platform, we must use our connections to proclaim, "I am going to live this day as though it were my last. I am going to use my God-given gifts to do all that I can, in every way possible to contribute to the column that will be remembered as being good, positive, right, worthy, supportive, contributive and encouraging." 
Sign me up. I have been given one more day and I am here to celebrate it. Will you join me? 
Image from article at Hope for the Broken Hearted

My Saint Pat, or Pat Saint or Guardian angel Saint, didn't get to live a full fifty nine and a half years here amidst the effects of gravity and aging. She didn't get to be a grandmother. She didn't get to see Molly graduate from college, or Luke fly off into the big world. She got to watch down instead from heaven and send her greetings on the wisp of spring's gentlest breeze and the turning of the brown dirt into a cascade of rainbow-like flowers instead. 

She lives forever in my heart and I cannot possibly imagine what heaven was like yesterday to open the gates to so many in such a sorrow-filled way. I can only imagine that Pat was there to get recruits for her angelic choir ensemble and regaled with tales of Heavenly hi-jinx. She reminds me daily of her transcendent journey.  

cathedral candles, Hope photograph, breast cancer

I took that picture on Easter morning at the cathedral in Milan, Italy. 
I can only imagine that it something akin to the tears cried by angels yesterday. 

Light your own candle against the darkness. 
Sing your own song. 

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!

Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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