I turned 31 yesterday, and it was a lovely, perfect, warm (on the inside) day.
I love birthdays and while I know that's not a universal feeling--just ask my husband who grumbles through his day each year--I still wish for you a birthday like I had when your day rolls around. We all deserve tacos with extra hot sauce and the fancy kind of champagne and co-workers who buy us flowers and in-laws who buy us Target gift cards and best internet friends who surprise us with a book straight off our to-read list and husbands who clean the bathroom while we lounge on the couch. Or, whatever your favorite things happen to be. Yes, that's what we all deserve on our birthdays: our favorite things.
I'm about to bring this post down, after all that sweetness, you've been warned. See, every year, on my birthday, I think of a girl I went to high school with. I knew her, was friendly (enough) with her, and we even ate lunch in the same group for a semester when we were dating guys who were friends. We then went on to the same college, and we were waved-hello-from-across-campus, kind-of friends. We weren't close, by any means, but I knew her. I knew her.
She died right after she graduated, in a car accident.
I don't know why her death hit me as hard as it hit me or why it stayed with me for so long. Why it's still with me, in a way.
See, every year on my birthday, I think of her. I think that she will never see 26 or 29 or 31. I think that her family would do anything to see her at those ages and that it's cruel, in a way, to complain about my own age when a girl I once (admittedly, barely) knew will never know the privilege of being 31.
I don't know why her death stuck with me when countless tragedies happen every day, every minute. When Connecticut just happened last month. But every year on my birthday I think of her, and I think I owe it to her to enjoy this privilege of aging.
This all sounds a little superior of me, I fear, especially when complaining about aging is normal, it doesn't make any of us wrong or awful or ungrateful. I think of her every year, though, and thinking of her keeps me from thinking about much else besides being glad to be whatever age I happen to be.
I am 31 now, and I am just so glad to be.