“What do you want for your birthday?” It’s a normal question to ask someone, and usually I have a quick fire answer as I have a running list in my brain of all the things I’d want. This year the question seemed impossible to answer. Not because there wasn’t anything I wanted, sure I could think of a few things here and there, but because this birthday may be the last birthday I will have on this Earth. Clothes, shoes, makeup, all the things I would have wanted seemed almost pointless. I found myself wondering what really mattered to me the most for my last birthday.
It came down to quality time with the people that I love. I longed to be in fellowship with my family and friends, all I wanted was to enjoy spending time with them. So how was my last birthday?
It was a wonderful night spent with friends and family. But it definitely had a unique feeling for me as I had the filter in my mind of, “this is it, you’ll never have another birthday here on Earth again.” It made every moment more special, yet it also forced me to have a cry in the bathroom. I wondered silently to myself what my birthday next year would look like? Would people be crying and mourning? Would they try to make it a celebration and reflect on all the memories we shared? Would they just get through the day doing their best not to think about it? Part of me likes the image of everyone celebrating my life and making it a happy day, the other part of me understands that it could be a very difficult day. But whether it’s a celebration or a time of mourning, the best image is that of everyone thanking God for the 24 wonderful birthdays I had on Earth. Whether it’s in the form of gratitude or lament, I would hope everyone could say a little prayer to God and say a little something to me.
One of the best gifts I received was a pile of letters that my sister gathered from people that I love. I stayed up late in the night crying and laughing as I read what people had to say to me on my last birthday. Some shared memories, some told me what I’ve meant to them, some had no words, and some praised God for my life. It was one of the most meaningful things that could have happened on my last birthday. It got me thinking, as someone who has the rare opportunity to be aware that my life is ending, I am able to tell you guys what not to miss out on. Some of you won’t know when your last birthday will be. So let me give you some advice. Definitely get the clothes and shoes and tools and games that you want, those things aren’t bad, but don’t let that be the center, the epitome of your birthday. I challenge you to spend your next birthday with the people that you love. And for those of you celebrating someones birthday, leave NOTHING unsaid. Tell them why they are important to you, share your favorite memory with them, write them a card so they can keep your words forever, because you never know what tomorrow will bring, don’t waste a day.