A birthday. A special thing. Another year you managed to live through. To see each day play out. To eat and drink and touch and taste and smell. And to not die.
Any one of those moments? You were never guaranteed them. I was not guaranteed them. I got them because of science. Because of fastidious humans caring if other humans survived, and because of my miraculous parents, who took my broken self and helped build her back into a regular-ish person.
I could have easily not had this birthday. I could have died when I was seven years old and my scalp was ripped from my body. But I did not. Humpty Jen was put back together again. So many people worked so hard to make sure that one day, one day... that little girl could have a very, very ordinary 36th birthday.
I wish I could hug them all right now. Show them that yes. Yes, your hard work and terrible days and that awful day you put that little girl back together mattered. What you did? It made someone else have a long, happy life full of pop culture news, fancy drinks, birthday parties, planting flowers with nieces and Jon Snow bobbleheads.
Your work mattered. It made me able to be.
Not every consequence is... real serious. Sometimes our best stories begin with a mishap. Something awry. Missed connections.
But the fact that I get them is special to me. I feel sorry for the people I know, mostly other women, who are ashamed or shy about their birthdays. "I am older," they think. "I have not had XYZ happen yet... I lose."
Nope. You have those thoughts? You win. You win over all those women who never got to see 36. For Phatiwe, who never will see 36. To pray that Diana and Sophie see 36, and honor their survival and still have a wonderful day.
Like I did. Celebrating with so many of my friends. Because we are all here to share it.
Which is the real gift.
The alternative to getting another year older is NOT getting another year older.
A thought some people I loved very much will never get to even consider. Because their stories ended.
Mine has not. And that?
Anything is possible.
I will wake up tomorrow with plans, but the world will unravel around me. Maybe it will go as I hoped. Maybe it will go as I planned. Maybe it will be a storm of surprises.
Or maybe it will all end.
But it probably won't. I pray it won't. My birthday came again. Another year. Another toast. Another day among the other people I love.