Okay, so it was yesterday.
Via the miracles of Facebook, the cat was let out of the bag for some of you.
I have so darned much I want to write these days, and yet a lot of things are holding me back. What is holding me back, you might ask? (Or might not.) Hmmm.... probably summer and laziness, honestly.
There was something else legit, though, and it had to do with this particular b'day, which I celebrated yesterday (and speaking of which, Happy B'day to Heather and Peter M., and Jim's wife, Lisa, too!).
This was my 49th birthday. Usually, the big 5-0 is the one that gives people pause. I, however, have no qualms about that one whatsoever.
I really don't have an issue with aging. Truly. I see each age as unique and having advantages and disadvantages. I'm not crazy about some of the health issues with aging (two pairs of glasses, anyone?), but other than that, I have no worries.
My issue with 49 had to do with my sister.
My half sister was 11 years older than I. I could write many, many posts about my family, and my sister's and my relationship, and the complications of all of that. I also suspect that most of us could write complex things about relationships with our sibs and families.
My sister and I were diametric opposites in many, many ways. My basic spirit is chaotic; hers was orderly; she was quiet; I am loud; she was a waif-like, strawberry blonde; and I am a short, squat brunette.
I was healthy as a horse (and still really am), and she was... delicate.
She once said to me that the thing I had in common with our shared father was my intellect, and what she shared with him was her poor health.
At 18, she developed melanoma, and survived.
At 45 or so, she started having a strange pain in her lower spine, which was basically ignored by her primary care physician. This pain became steadily worse over the years, and when she went in for a check-up in the fall of '96, at the age of 48, she was so weak that her physician finally took massive action.
As a non-smoker, she had lung cancer, and it had spread to her brain.
Despite periods of fighting and modern medicine (neither of which my sister fully believed in), Kathy finally succumbed on May 30th, 1997, two days before her 49th birthday.
Her death has affected me in many more ways than I can possibly put into words. I've tried writing about it, writing about her, and honestly, those pieces have sucked.
There are, of course, the negatives: I think about her almost every day. I miss her, despite our ups and downs. I miss not having my one sibling. There are things my nephew has gone through that I wish he hadn't. I'm sad that C never really got to know her because she absolutely delighted in C. She was too damned young. The whole thing just wasn't fair. And yes, I could keep going on and on in this way.
There are also, for me, some positives, although hopefully I would have had other ways to learn these lessons: I don't take anything for granted. Truly. I keep my loved ones close to me, and they are my priority. Always. I have my brother-in-law's wonderful second wife and her amazing family in my life. There are other lessons, too, but these are the main ones.
But oh... getting to that 49th birthday. This date with destiny has been plaguing me for months. I felt a lot better after talking with a psych friend who told me that this is absolutely normal in cases where a sibling, spouse or parent dies young. Be that as it may... it haunted me. Would I live long enough to make sure that C was protected from the things my nephew experienced? Would I accompany D into old age?
Anyway, I made it. And as other friends who have experienced similar anniversaries reassured me, the relief is enormous. Today, the next day, I feel as if I'd never had those anxieties. It was a great birthday, and a perfect birthday weekend, really. The weather was lovely and I had a fabulous event on Saturday night (non-birthday-related, but still great fun) and a day yesterday full of lovely greetings, good entertainment (Hellboy II... yeah, but it was fun!) and a lovely dinner.
The main thing, though, is that today is the next day in the rest of my life.
Forty-nine, here I come.