Eclairs or Donuts?

by | Dec 14, 2020 | 1 comment

I will never forget my 40th birthday. I had been recently diagnosed with MS, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and my beautiful niece/goddaughter who shared my birthday was diagnosed with MLD.  

I had no desire to celebrate a year that would be filled with so much loss and pain.  My family tried to use sugar to get me out my funk, but it was not going to happen. I was angry and even the best German Chocolate Cake was not going to make it better.  I was right, because it was a painful, unforgettable year filled with too much pain for one family.  

My dad died 4 days after my 41st birthday. For a long time I had no desire to celebrate milestones or get excited about another year. I was not a great mother, daughter, wife, or friend. I was just trying to survive. You can not have that type of year without being impacted in a way that lasts a lifetime. 

I decided to celebrate my 47th birthday last year. I travelled to Paris with my extended family. 

The irony of the trip is that I was living with something called trigeminal neuralgia. It is a painful side effect of MS and its nickname is the suicide disease because the pain is known to make you want to kill yourself.  My doctor prescribed an anti-seizure medication with some side effects, one being that I couldn’t have more than a glass of wine without falling over. They would make me so tired that I fell asleep in random places. Looking back, I guess I should have been upset about having those restrictions during my birthday week in Paris. 

The worst year of my life has changed me in ways that I could not have anticipated and having to manage this pain iss not going to hold me back from experiencing life.  Every day I would run along the Seine so I could start each morning at the Eiffel Tower. I cried on many of those runs. I had a long road to get there and was not going to let anything hold me back from enjoying every second.  

I have learned that pain and suffering teaches us to see and love the beauty in the ordinary. My husband planned my actual birthday. We walked the streets of Paris trying eclairs all over the city in search of the perfect one. We enjoyed the best cup of hot chocolate in front of the Louvre. I swear that these bits of life are a little sweeter after so much pain. 

It was an emotional trip for many reasons. I thought of my dad all the time. I desperately wanted to call him. Growing up, every time I would call him for advice he would say “Do what makes you happy”. It was the simplest piece of advice that carried so much weight.  I wanted him to know that I have figured out what makes me happy. It took a long time, and it was not easy to find it without him, but I am finding my way to happiness again. 

I am excited to celebrate my birthday in a couple weeks. I will be safe at home. A home that has been a little destroyed with so many people living here during 2020. I will smile at the broken tiles in the kitchen while I enjoy every bite of the donut from Linda’s Donuts in Belmont. I promise you it will be an amazing day just like Paris.

2020 has been a challenging year but I will continue to see the beauty in the ordinary for my 48th birthday. I am preparing for 2021 by researching tickets to Paris. I can’t want to see if that eclair can be any sweeter on my next birthday. 

1 Comment

  1. Louise K.

    Empowering blog! Thanks! Life is not for sissies!


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