Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cougel's Bittersweet Birthday

In my last post I discussed how this blog needs to evolve - naturally -  and asked for your suggestions (thank you by the way!)

But funny how life – and the universe – can provide the answer.

Several days after that post, the advertising industry was hit with another random tragedy and loss of a wonderful person. I knew this guy, who was robbed from this world, and all the possibilities of a beautiful life ahead - but I didn’t know him well. That didn’t change the impact of his loss or the heaviness I carried around for days. I met up with some of his close friends later that evening, and at first I questioned whether I had a place in that tight knit circle to mourn him. But you realize that the older you get, not only do you statistically know more people, and therefore are exposed to more loss – but the more blessed you feel to have the privilege of living.

His passing came, coincidentally, on the brink of my birthday. It was a big birthday. The number and the date had been beckoning for months, at some moments daunting me. I wondered how I would feel. Having been married for fourteen years, and then divorced, I didn’t predict that the picture of my life today would consist of the furnishings that now inhabit it. But of course, you can’t predict what your life will look like a year from now, or ten. We take comfort in thinking that we can (it gives us a needed illusion of control, and that’s okay). But this year, with the timing of my friend’s passing at such a young age, it underscored the preciousness of life. Of the now.

On the evening before my birthday, I was overcome by emotion. My boyfriend noticed my silence, and at first, he mistook it as sorrow.  And I wasn’t sure whether his guess was accurate or not.  But as the clock struck midnight (and I’m no Cinderella), as I sat beside him with a glass of wine on a porch near the beach, looking up at the stars, I realized that what I was feeling was gratitude. Gratitude for being given the privilege of experiencing this planet. And gratitude for the life that I had created for myself while on it, in the years since (and including) my marriage: my job, my love for my dog,
my home life, my discovery of an inner writing life, and moreover - for the wonderful people who are an intrinsic part of it.

Are there tough times? Grievances that seem monsterous when I'm focused on them? Of course. I write about it plenty. But in moments like these, those musings seem irrelevant. 

And then the Happy Birthday wishes started pouring in on Facebook. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that as they did, throughout the day, I checked my now deceased friend’s Facebook wall, filled with heart breaking lamentation. Facebook is a funny thing, isn’t it? I couldn’t help but notice the irony. The celebration of the birth of a life on one page, and mourning the end of one (like a virtual tombstone) on another - simultaneously occurring on the same app. The cycle of life imprinted on Facebook.

When I met up with my friends to grieve, we ended up talking about every detail that led up to our friend’s death. For closure, to find meaning? But all we could do was share, connect, and feel united in that moment, in the hopes that by doing so it would alleviate some of the sorrow or honor our friend’s memory.  What can we take from such a thing? was a question frequently asked.  We concluded, at least publically, that we could not. 

But privately, it’s up to us – and not just when we celebrate the day of our birth – but every single day, when we wake up in the morning, to explore and celebrate what life means to us.


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  2. beautiful post.

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