In a week, this little girl will be turning 45 years old. In this photo, she is starting her first day of Kindergarten at the ripe old age of 7 in Kinburn, Ontario. I thought this morning about what I would say to her if I could. I imagine the first thing I would do is hug her tightly. That is what I needed on that day. I was terrified to go on the bus by myself. It was not a great first day of school either as I recall. I was called by the wrong name during the entire day by my teacher because I was too shy to tell her that I wasn’t Kristine.
45 isn’t a year that most people celebrate. I don’t remember seeing any fancy cards in the drugstore celebrating the big 45. Not really a milestone birthday the way it will be 5 years from now. Ordinarily, I don’t feel like celebrating my birthday. Usually, my daughters and I have a nice dinner that I make, and a cake. Low key and simple. I don’t think that this year will be any different. However, I do feel like celebrating.
I want to celebrate the life of this little girl, who has since learned to speak up a little more, be braver in sharing who she is, and has grown up (literally and figuratively) to see the world through a unique set of eyes.
For the first time that I can remember, somewhere, there will be fireworks going off on my birthday. This year Chinese New Year falls on my birthday, and that alone is reason enough to celebrate. I wish I could tell my 7 year old self in this photo, that everything will be okay. Even though there will be many many times when it will feel like everything is not okay – things will work out how they need to work out.
I am sure if I put my mind to it, I could come up with a laundry list of things that could help my young self navigate the stormy waters of the life time come more easily, but I don’t think that would be fair. The very difficult times of my life helped to shape the person I am. Maybe, I would like to spare her some of the heart ache and pain, but mostly I would tell her to surround herself with people who are loving and supportive whenever possible. You can’t always control who comes into your life or what happens, but having even just one person that can be a touchstone for you when things get rough can make all the difference in the world.
I have been very lucky in the past year, when things have seemed very grim on the health front and life front, that my friends have been there to support me through the worst of it all. I may be starting my next year of life with a few hiccups and bumps (trip to visit the surgeon in the morning to see what the results of the year of breast cancer tests will be) but I know that I am surrounded by love. That helps me to be strong and not fall into despair.
So, little me, you will be ok. You will find laughter and love through hard times. You will find beauty and brightness in the darkest moments and you will also still love wearing red sneakers to run around outside in.
Happy Birthday. Be brave.