Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy ME!

Happy Birthday…to Me!

Today is my birthday…I turn the dreaded 3-0! Actually, if I am honest, I really haven’t been dreading turning 30. I enjoy going into a new decade – I like checking off a new check box on forms! I know…I’m crazy!

My birthday is a bittersweet day, filled with memories of the past and hopes for the future. I remember today that no longer will I receive the wonderfully irritating phone call from my mom at 12:01 am wishing me a Happy Birthday and that makes me sad! But, I know that my husband will set his alarm for 12:01 am to wish me a Happy Birthday, regardless of what time he has to get up in the morning! I am sad because I know that my parents are no longer here to celebrate the day with me, but I know that I will be able to celebrate the day with my husband and son and that makes me incredibly happy! I know that there will be no cards from my Mom or Dad and that brings a tear to my eye, but a smile can’t help but come across my face as I read the words that my husband has so lovingly written in a card for me and read the card that Alex has attempted to sign! And while most of the day I will be smiling, I am sure that there are times that I will be crying as well. Definitely mixed emotions! I struggle with these bittersweet emotions on a daily basis, but they are never more apparent than on “important” dates! I know that from heaven my parents are wishing me the best 30th birthday ever and they are sending me so much love…I can feel it!

My 20’s were some of the most incredible, sadness filled, joy producing, life changing years and today, I am reflecting on the past decade!

~I turned 21 and brought it in, in style! There is little about the night that I actually remember, but I have pictures to prove that I had an incredible time. I had the 21st birthday that I always wanted – enough of a party, but nothing too crazy!

~I met, fell in love with, became engaged to and eventually married Larry. I had no idea that when I met him that he would turn out to be “the one”. What a sweet surprise! While I didn’t know it at the time, I was so incredibly blessed the day that he walked into my life. Throughout my 20’s, he has proven to be the love of my life, my best friend, my rock, my biggest supporter and one of the most amazing men I have ever met. We have never claimed to have the “perfect” relationship, but we have a relationship that works perfectly for us and for that, I am eternally thankful!

~I had my dream wedding. I could never thank my parents enough for fulfilling my every wish and want. They made my little girl fantasy wedding a reality. The day was perfect because of all that they did for us. We were surrounded by our family and friends, the people who mean the most to us in the world, and we were able to share our love and celebrate it with everyone! We had an amazing time, one that I will never, ever forget!

~I went through the most heartbreaking event EVER on October 22, 2005! My parents were killed and it felt as though my world came crashing beneath me. I will never forget the moment that I found out about my Mom and Dad – it is a memory that is forever etched in my mind. The days and nights surrounding their death are foggy and filled with sadness, but it was then that I learned that I had a wonderful group of family and friends – once again showing me their love! In the years since losing Mom and Dad, I have had to deal with becoming a new person – a person without them and a person learning to go on. For obvious reasons, their death has had the greatest impact on my 20’s!

~Because of their death, the night of October 21, 2005 has also become permanently embedded in my memory. That was the last time that I saw my parents alive, the last time I felt their warm embrace and the last time I said “I love you” to them in person. I hold that day in my heart and will remember every moment of it.

~I have reconnected with my best friend. In the midst of tragedy, comes joy. If my tragedy was losing my parents, my joy was finding Jenny after losing touch with her. As kids, we had a great friendship, but now, as adults, we have an amazing friendship. She is the sister that I never had and I am so thankful she is back in my life! My wish for everyone is to find the type of friendship that I have with Jenny. I read once that sometimes in life your soul mate isn’t your spouse, it is your best friend. I whole-heartedly believe that is true with Jenny and me!

~I became a sister-in-law! This is something VERY big for me! Never having siblings, it was exciting to suddenly have 2 brother-in-laws (with a 3rd added in October of 2008) and 2 sister-in-laws! I love all of them so much and I am so lucky that my siblings-in-law accepted me so well into their family. I am even luckier that within my sister-in-law I found a best friend!

~I gave birth to a beautiful, incredible and amazing little boy. Our son, Alexander James Cothren is my light at the end of a very dark tunnel! He is the happiness in my life that I thought was lost after Mom and Dad died. There is so much that little boy has brought to my life, more than he will ever know and/or realize. He gave me a reason, when I felt like I had no purpose left in the world. He makes me smile on days when my heart is hurting so very bad. He shows me unconditional love when I feel so unlovable. He reminds me of my Mom and Dad during the times when I need it most. He is so much like the both of them, it is scary! Each day, I find so much joy in watching him grow and change. He is no longer my little baby, but a growing and learning toddler. A toddler with a brilliant mind and an eager heart! He is talking, running, meeting milestones and amazing me every step of the way. I am so proud to be his Mommy and I know that having Alex was my proudest moment of my 20’s!

~In my 20’s I have made quite a few moves. I have moved from Cullman, Alabama to Huntsville, Alabama to Enterprise, Alabama and finally to California, Maryland. For a girl who never really moved when she was growing up, this is a lot! Moving to both Enterprise and Maryland has challenged me as a person. I was taken away from my comfort zone and I think I did pretty well!

~We acquired (and kept alive) 3 dogs! Our Pomeranians, Spanky, Rascal and Buckwheat came into our lives at different times during my 20’s. At times, they might annoy us a little, but I really don’t know what life would be like without them.

~I have lost my two grandfathers during my 20’s. In June of 2006, my grandpa Bob, passed away and more recently in July of 2009, my grandpa Virgil passed away. Both of my grandfathers were men of character and dignity. They lived their life with grace, purpose and love. Both men hold a special place in my heart and I miss each of them dearly. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them. They have each left a legacy on my life that I will honor and remember!

~I was honored to be a part of two different weddings in my 20’s. The first was Kari and Barry’s in July of 2007, where I served as a bridesmaid (Alex actually was a bridesmaid as well, since I was six months pregnant at the time)! Never having been in a wedding before, it was an incredible experience and I was so happy to be a part of it! The second was Sheena and Trey’s wedding in October of 2008. I was so excited when Sheena asked me to be her Matron of Honor and consider it a huge blessing to have stood beside her on her wedding day!

~While I always knew that my Mom’s family was close and important to me, it became even more apparent to me after my Mom and Dad died. My Aunt, Uncles and Cousins have provided me with a support system – calling and checking on me frequently! They have celebrated my joys and supported me in my sorrows, never forgetting to show me the love that they know I have needed. My grandma has been by my side every step of the way. She has be the one that I am able to turn to when I need advice, she waited by my bedside before I went in for my C-section and was there after I delivered Alex, she has taken care of me when I have been sick, scared and needed someone. I can’t ever begin to thank her for all that she has become in my life – I am so lucky that God made sure she was here when he took my Mom from me!

~In my 20’s, I have strengthened existing friendships, made new friends, lost touch with friends and reconnected with friends (thanks to Facebook). My life is enriched and greater because each of these people has been a part of my life. Thank you, friends, for being part of my life and for making my 20’s even that much more special.

All-in-all, this past decade has been one of growth, strength, love, loss, joy and sorrow! The events of the past decade have brought me to where I am today and for the most part, I like where I am and I like who I am!

So, goodbye 20’s and HELLO 30’s :)

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