There are so many milestones you dread when you mom dies when you’re only 17. There are countless things she has not been a part of, starting with my high school graduation. One of the worst moments of loss for me was when my twins were born and now, I will be turning the age she was when she lived the last year of her life. I’ve been thinking about this birthday for years, and the significance of turning 42, so I decided to turn it into something ridiculously positive.
The idea was born on a run, as most of my greatest ideas are. I recently told my husband that most people have to “sleep on it” but I need to “sweat on it.”
Here’s the thing – – when someone that close and important to you dies when you’re a young, stupid teenager it can create a deep seeded fear. It’s this fear of dying, of knowing I could die young and with no good reason, that gives me anxiety and panic attacks. Fear of dying is why I obsess about my health, why I can barely fly from point A to point B and why I hold on so tightly to everyone I love. You can see how this is an issue, right?
I’m a big celebrator of birthdays. I embrace getting old because my mom will never the privilege of becoming a grandmother or an old woman. I celebrate big because another year of life is worth celebrating. In my mind it’s a miracle to make it one more year without something catastrophic happening. Life should be celebrated and not just every decade. Why not 42?
This year, I sent out invitations to my family and closest friends asking them to celebrate with me. I told them the only acceptable gift is to set an intention: live this year like it was your last.
What would you do if you had only one year to live?
Think about it.
How would it change your life? You family’s life? You career? Your home?
Why not have a shot of tequila with your aunt and cousins?
The party was even better than I anticipated and I was surrounded by everything and everyone who was important to me. I feel tremendously lucky that although I lost my mom, I have the best father in the world, a brother who I’m super close with, two incredible aunts who are my surrogate moms and countless cousins and friends who all continue to show me why life is still beautiful.
I gave a speech that included this quote from The Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. It’s from the oldest living holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer who not only suffered unimaginable brutality in a Nazi concentration camp but also lost her entire family. She said:
“I have lived through many wars and have lost everything many times, including my mother, my husband and my beloved son yet life is beautiful and I have so much to learn and enjoy. I have no time for pessimism and hate.”
So yes, horrible, terrible things like losing your mom happen but still, life is beautiful. In honor of my mother and her last year of life, let’s live this year without fear, anxiety or stress and instead live it UP, live BIG and make decisions based on love and hope and just having a good fucking time. Life is too short not to.
My husband and I do a pretty good job of living life out loud, of setting big goals and attaining them, of traveling the world and bringing the boys on our adventures. How will our lives change this year? I cannot wait to find out.
What one thing would you change if this was your last year?