On July 11th, I turned thirty. Yup, the big 3-0. Of my close group of friends I'm the last one to hit this big milestone. It kind of snuck up on me. Since our lives became so chaotic with diagnoses, treatments, grief, birth and relapse, birthdays seem to slip down the totem poll of priorities. Plus, Lochlan's first birthday is coming up and that seems way more interesting than my 30th.
But, being that I have amazing friends whom I've known since elementary and middle school, they took me out and we had a blast! We went bowling - an activity where the worse you are, the more fun you have as it is increasingly evident that you are never going to become a professional bowler, or even manage to get a score past the double digits. We laughed 'til we cried, and stayed out way past my bedtime, and never once questioned each other about where we were "headed" in life.
Birthdays seem to give you a realization that you are actually older than you were the day before - even if you don't feel like it. I realized that in just 30 years I have experienced things that many people don't see until they are 60 or 70, if at all, in their life. Sure, I have a lot of friends my age who have gotten married, bought a house and had a couple kids. That's pretty par for the course. But it's this damn cancer thing that's pushed me beyond the typical and forced me to face the reality of life and how short it is before most people my age even think about death as a tangible possibility.
While I'm very sure that the world is going to be stuck with me for quite some time yet (let's face it - I'm too stubborn to let cancer have it's way), loosing a child is something that I'm sure has shaved a few years off the endpoint of my life. The basic stress that it puts on someone mentally just can't be measured. (Well, I'm sure some neuroscientist out there has some theory...) But I think even more than that, it is alienating. Not to everyone, and not completely, but you become an enigma in most circumstances that leaves you wanting for the "normal" encounters that you used to have with the rest of the world. (Enter the AWESOME world of Camp Sunshine! where I'm pretty sure we all wish we could live full time as a commune of like minded "crazies.") Life's little "problems" become petty, and tolerance for ignorance, stupidity, and bullshit becomes pretty much nil. You suddenly become "enlightened" to the fact that the phrase "life sucks, and then you die" is pretty much spot on, and you might as well do things that mater and leave the rest alone.
So.... At the ripe old age of 30, I have done some things I had always wanted to, some that I never wanted to, and some that I never dreamed I'd do. I've faced challenges while laughing, cried tears while escaping, and managed to get out of bed every day. And while life is far from perfect, and - let's face it - often far from fair, if I'm going to be kicking around for another 30+ years, I better do some things that are pretty amazing while I'm here.