Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lordy, lordy—I’m turning 40!

In a couple of weeks, I hit a couple of big milestones. The first is that I turn 40. The second is the 10-year anniversary of the death of my younger brother Fred.

Give me a second and I’ll tell you what one has to do with the other.

My brother died unexpectedly of an aneurysm around the date of my 30th birthday. The two are forever linked. But my brother’s death is also tied to one of the happiest moments of my life: We discovered we were pregnant with T. a few hours before we received the dreaded phone call.

My brother was a great guy. He loved life and loved participating in things that made him happy. He was a great friend and sibling who was there for anyone who needed him. He could see the best in a situation and made sacrifices to become a better person. (Don’t get me wrong—the man was not a saint. But even Mother Theresa had bad days.)

Fred was a great example of what life should be. While I am sad that he didn’t get to continue his journey, I know that his example lives on in all of us touched by him.

As I turn 40, I don’t have a sense of dread or the sense of regret that I see in other people. I approach this birthday feeling grateful. I am grateful for another day with the family I love. I am grateful for another day to make a difference in someone’s life. I am grateful for the opportunity to make today the best day it can be.

It’s amazing how quickly this can all disappear. And while I have faith I’ll see Fred in heaven one day, I know that I need to live for today.

So yes, I have more wrinkles and I’m softer in many places. Things sag that didn’t used to. My hair is thinning in some places and growing thicker in others. As I get older I care less about other people’s opinions and more about doing the right thing. I don’t have time to waste on things I’m not passionate about.

My hope is that 40 is the lower end of the mid-point of my life. But even if it isn’t, I need to embrace each day. My brother’s sudden death taught me to be grateful for the little things in life, because those are the things that make life good.

So yes, I’m turning 40. My goal is to truly live up to my favorite motto: “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming .... WOW what a ride.”

The next 40 years are going to be a great ride.

Reace Alvarenga-Smith is a Mom of two in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

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