I've been dreading this week for a while. For some reason, turning thirty-five has a powerful hold on me. But it's not the number. It's the number combined with life circumstances. And I wish there was some way to convey that without sounding like poor pitiful me because I know that I am very blessed. I put forth the following because to type anything less would be to dishonor the feelings in my heart and because I hope that this will provide insight on how not to respond to others in similar circumstances.
My birthday has come up in several conversations lately with people I don't really know, and the conversations generally went something like this:
Lady in passing: Did you say that your birthday is this week?
Me: Yes. It's the first one that I've actually dreaded.
Lady in passing: Really? Which one is it?
Lady in passing: Oh, well I turned [insert age higher than 35] recently. Thirty-five is nothing.
Me: (Trying to smile outwardly and grimacing inwardly because Lady is married and has children. She has no idea what it is like to come home on her birthday to no one, except a Golden Retriever. Yet, there's no way to explain all that is going on in my heart in a passing conversation with someone I don't really know.)
It's not that I never thought I'd turn thirty-five; it's that I never dreamed I'd turn thirty-five and not have a husband and family to share that day with.
Two years ago, I told my friends that if I was still single at thirty-five, I was going to plan a big party for my thirty-fifth birthday because I wanted the benefit of having everyone together like when family and friends gather for a wedding and wedding reception. But in order to plan that big get-together, I had to commit to the fact that I would be single. And I just couldn't bring myself to admit that. Needless to say, the big party never occurred.
But my sweet friends--both married and single--helped me celebrate my birthday and got me through it. It's been their (your) encouragement that has carried me through some lonely nights. So thanks for understanding and for loving me well.