The First Day of the Rest of My Life

Today is December 30, 2022. I am 48 years 8 months 7 days old. I am one day older than my father will ever be, and I’ve now outlived him.

Twenty years ago today, I was twenty-eight years old, and I spent the morning eagerly awaiting my unborn child’s full ultrasound exam and learning his gender. Twenty years ago, tonight, I was devastated, having been given the option of termination the first of three times, which culminated in the option of hospice care the morning after my son was born.

The day my father died, January 30, 1997, and the day of my son’s diagnoses of heart defects incompatible with life, December 30, 2002, were the two worst days of my life. I’ve had other hard days – like three different days my son almost died, the day my best friend died at only twenty-five years of age, riding in an ambulance because my gall bladder failed and paralyzed my lung. But those days that fell on the 30th of two different months were the worst days, and they changed me.

Today was a good day. I got some important work done. I sold some of my creations at a shop. I enjoyed time with my family and our four dogs. Today is a precious day. Every single day is a precious day. Today is a day my father never had, and every day for the rest of my days will be the same. Today is a day I shared with my living son who is almost twenty, and my blossoming daughter who’s got a gathering to attend, and my husband whose been with me for over thirty years. Today I celebrate the simple but profound gift of being here to experience life.

I wrote this poem below almost twenty-six years ago. I guess it’s proof that I’ve always been this way, but I think it’s also proof that I appreciate the life I have. Sometimes it’s just right to mark the days, and to remember that for all of us, they are numbered. Let’s make them count.

Thirty -one

In thirty-one days spring will explode

In that cold meadow, where we left his body beneath the snow.

In thirty-one weeks autumn will emerge,

And the Black Hills will spread a crackling gold quilt over his grave.

In thirty-one months I will be older than he on

That Tuesday I tore free of my mother’s womb.

In thirty-one years I will be older than my father was

As he slipped away

Thirty-one days ago.

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