The Most Beautiful Gifts Don’t Come In Boxes

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OMG I’m 40-something again! Woo hoo!! I can’t believe I’m getting younger this year :)

I had a great birthday – David and I decided to escape with a small group of friends. We went up to Napa Valley, which is one of our favorite places, drank way too much wine but it was good times with great friends and we were celebrating another person’s birthday as well.

We flew back early Sunday morning for my birthday, just in time to attend a school family picnic. Gotta do what you gotta do, and those are the events that can’t be missed.

Some of my favorite moments on my birthday were shared with my family. My 11-year-old wrote me a beautiful card and the older my children get, the more I realize that it’s the sentiments that mean the most. The kindness of her words and the time and thought that she put into it brought tears to my eyes, it was so sweet. Even if it’s only once I year that I get recognized, I’ll take it!

Later that night, David decided to take me out to a family dinner.  That was my choice, to spend the rest of my birthday together. My son walked into my bathroom in a suit and tie and I almost lost it. Not only was he the cutest little thing I’ve ever seen, but the fact that he wanted to dress-up and celebrate the special event meant so much to me and he was drop dead gorgeous! 

Lucky me, dinner with these hotties!

So David, Rain, Shaya and I went to my favorite restaurant, maybe in the whole country, Nobu on the Beach. We had a beautiful birthday together. By the time eight o’clock rolled around, both kids were fast asleep on our laps and it was just a reminder of the reality of raising a family.  Birthday parties used to be wild and crazy and now they’re shared together with a lap full of love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Later, my oldest daughter Neriah sent me an e-mail with an essay she had been working on where she had to document a pivotal point in her life. She decided to write about when she found out that I had cancer. I had to choke back my tears reading it, and realizing how much that event had affected her life.

I knew how hard it was for all my children when I was going through it. I tried to keep my game face on; David and I made every effort to stay strong, while at the same time knowing we couldn’t protect them from reality. We were honest, but positive and tried to love them through every fear.

Reading Neriah’s point of view in her essay made me feel how important I am to her. I think with teenagers, we very rarely ever hear the words “I need you, you mean the world to me.”  And I think as parents, we always hope that one day our children will know how much we love them… and have our endless efforts recognized and appreciated.

Reading Neriah’s essay touched me in the deepest of ways. Here’s a tidbit of what she expressed:

“The relationship of my mom and I has always been closer than anyone.  When I realized that she had cancer I thought my life was over.  Every night I would cry and I was constantly thinking well what if my mom isn’t strong enough? What if she loses her cancer battle? I have always felt bad for everyone who has cancer, but I had never really dwelt on cancer being part of my life in any way.  I never thought that it could actually happen, especially to my mom.   Knowing that she had cancer made me cherish every single moment that I had with her because honestly, I thought those moments would be some of my lasts.

My mom is a cancer survivor and she won her battle.  The fact that my mom had cancer almost killed me, but it did a lot of good for me too.  My perspective shifted in every way.  You really can’t take things for granted.  I thought that my mom would be gone forever and that I would never see her again.  From the moment I realized she had cancer, I tried my best to take care of her and I spent as much time with her as I could. Why? Because I couldn’t handle the thought of losing her and I thought I was going to. 

I don’t panic about the little things anymore.  Cancer made me realize that the people who are there for you are really special, material things don’t matter, and  I have everything I need.  I can’t complain about little things when some people aren’t as lucky with cancer as my family was.  My biggest fear is losing my mom and having her taken away from me, but even cancer couldn’t get in the way.  Have hope because things that seem hopeless and impossible can happen.  One event can change your life and the way you look at things forever.  Don’t take your life for granted and don’t think low because our generation might actually be able to find a cure for cancer.”

Reading that essay on the morning of my birthday was a sentiment gift and a huge reason to celebrate another year! I am rich in life and happiness and blessed beyond words to have my beautiful family and my health to enjoy every moment. 

Here’s to 40 again :)!

 

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