Friday, March 31, 2017

Birthdays and My Dad's Legacy

I used to hate celebrating my birthdays. Every year my boyfriend and family stressed out knowing I would go through the same rant about why birthdays sucked. 

Why did they suck? It's not that I was afraid of growing older. Or, that I wanted to pretend I was still 21. To me, celebrating birthdays after 25 seemed pointless and no one felt me on this. 

The last three years before my dad died he was adamant about having a party for his birthday. And to be honest, I was irritated about organizing and preparing one. My selfishness knew no bounds and I hid my irritation without success. I remember my dad smiling, laughing, and clapping loudly in his wheelchair while we all sang Happy Birthday to him. I remember singing along, thinking, "I don't get it. But whatever..." I know, I'm a selfsih P.O.S.

A month before he passed away, when he was lucid enough to communicate, he repeatedly said he wasn't happy. We knew the end was coming. He knew it was imminent. Yet, he couldn't tell us the reason behind his unhappiness when we asked why he wasn't happy. I chalked it up to him always being unhappy. My dad was never the fun-loving, laughing, full-of-life kind of human being. 

Expressing his unhappiness meant he was being himself. I interpreted it as "I'm not happy I'm dying and leaving mom in your inadequate hands." Our lives were consumed with making sure he was comfortable while he was in and out of the hospital that we never had time to delve into why he was unhappy. I mean, he was dying, who would be happy?

This year, when my birthday month loomed ahead, I couldn't contain my excitement. While my boyfriend was heading on his monthlong Philippines adventure my birthday month promised 30 days of silence and solitude. I scheduled and planned every day of March before he left for the Philippines. 

On this last day of March I look back and thank my dad for his legacy. I finally got it---the reason why he celebrated his birthday in full effect. He knew he didn't have long to live. My dad knew that every year that passed meant he was closer to leaving us. 

To my family's surprise I asked them to help me celebrate my 49th birthday this year. Actually, shock accurately described their reaction. 

I wanted to celebrate every single day of my birthday month. I wanted to do things I normally wouldn't do. I wanted to spend my actual birthday without hearing or dealing with adult matters. I finally understood why LIFE should be celebrated and lived as if every day were an adventure. 

Watching my dad die did that. And it's still a mystery to me why some of us wait for a loss or tragedy to finally see the beauty in celebrating life in all its messy glory. I'm grateful for this second chance to live my life in appreciation for the gift that it is. As I celebrate my last year in my fourth decade I can say it's already a great one as I unapologetically live it according to what makes ME happy. 

I mean, why waste precious time doing things that make us unhappy? Why lie on your deathbed telling your loved ones about your unhappiness? 

Below are some pictures from my thirty days of silence, solitude, self love and self care. My boyfriend is back home but I intend to continue the momentum of what my birthday month manifested. It sounds cliché but happiness is my choice. No one holds that power but me. And every day in the middle of the messiness I choose H A P P Y. 

Live life while you have it.
Life is a splendid gift-there 
is nothing small about it.
~Florence Nightingale

I started my birthday month
seeing Gabby Bernstein live
at Wanderlust, Hollywood. 

Spent some much-needed time
with my seester whose birthday
happens to be a week from mine.

These creative kids helped me celebrate my
no-adult-no-adulting birthday. Their
photography inspires me to
get out of my comfort zone. 

My rolldog, Crystal. She introduced me
to the Detour app and we did a walking tour
of L.A.
The birthplace of Noir. 

The Bradbury Building. The last stop
in The Birthplace of Noir

I've always wanted to go check out wineries and
see what all this wine tasting was about.
So I asked my fave familia to help me. 

My mom, my spawns and Grandkid #1
celebrating my birthday at Steelcraft in Long Beach.