Happy Birthday, Anyway.

” ‘Happy Birthday’ should be the first thing you hear when you wake up and the last thing you hear before you go to sleep.” – Judy King

Birthdays seem to be the perfect storm for me lately. I have never been a fan of things changing, new milestones, new chapters in my life, etc., and that is what every birthday brings with it. When you are small, these pains of “growing up” are masked by lots of presents and parties. Eventually, the façade ends, and you realize growing up is tough.

Will’s birthday was last week, and we had a blast celebrating his special day with family and friends. We did every cool thing in the world we could think of to make his weekend special. Finally, when the day was over, he went to bed with tears in his eyes. He looked at me and said, “It’s just not as fun as it used to be.” At first I was angry because I felt as if he was ungrateful for all we had done. Then I realized, my baby boy was growing up. He was realizing there is so much more to life than the “stuff” or the “presents”.

Wow. What a moment I will always remember. I explained to him how “things” do not give us joy. Then I explained to him about the day he was born and how much joy that experience gave us. I was so thankful for that grown up conversation with Will, but my heart was broken for him because I knew he had reached a new milestone in his life and could never go back.

My birthday is tomorrow, and I have found myself spiraling backwards in a sea of grief missing my Mother. Birthdays were the ultimate Judy King days. Birthdays embodied everything she believed in. It was a day where she could speak her love language and speak it loudly. She loved creating special memories through celebrations, especially on birthdays.

Just as I considered skipping Christmas this past year, I annnounced my desire to skip my birthday this year as well, not because I don’t want to get older but because I don’t want to go through it without my Mother. I realize she would be extremely opposed to this. I just can’t help but feel it. Then God woke me up in the middle of the night and let me read an email that gave me the answer I had been looking for about how to handle all of this.

A precious friend of mine gave me a book a few weeks ago called “Fearless”. This book is wonderful for those of us who love to worry about and control our situations. It confronts the things we are the most fearful of and gives great examples of how not to fear them. Faith is a huge part of that.

Fearless. It’s my new favorite word (as is my new, precious friend). The week after reading Fearless, my students watched a short video clip of one of my all-time favorite songs by Martina McBride, “Anyway”. God even used Martina that week to tell me to BE FEARLESS!
I immediately emailed my friend to tell her about the song and sent her the lyrics.

You can spend your whole life buildin’
Somethin’ from nothin’
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain’t good
When I pray it doesn’t always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world’s gone crazy and it’s hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
love ’em anyway

You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah, sing it anyway
I sing, I dream, I love

Now here’s the best part of this story. I read Fearless back in April and sent my friend the lyrics to this song over a month ago. Being the caring friend that she is, she just knew I was dreading my birthday without Mother. She knew I was having a hard time. I’m not quite sure she knew I would be up at 2am this morning, but when I read her email at 2am, this is what I read…. “Happy Birthday, Anyway”  and that is EXACTLY what I needed to hear to make it through this weekend without Mother.

It may hurt. It may not. It may be the best day of my life. Who knows? I’ll never know if I fear it. So with eyes wide open and heart ready for whatever may come, bring on the birthday! We’re gonna celebrate anyway!

Thank you Tracey Jonakin, my fearless friend.