I’ll come clean. It’s my birthday. And a “milestone birthday” as they say. The big 5-0. How ever did that happen?

I planned to celebrate. To celebrate big. To spend time with family and friends and carve out special events and joyful moments. I expected to make sure I acknowledged the day, and honestly, myself. To enjoy myself and enjoy myself big. But I didn’t expect one great gift I received already.

I was traveling for work this past week and came back late one night to find my kitchen decorated. My friend had decided she wanted to surprise me – to bring a bit more light into my day – and she planned to put streamers and balloons on my side porch for my birthday. Only I called her on her cell phone as she was out on my side porch, on a ladder hanging purple streamers, and once she realized that I was away, she decided instead to wait for my son to get home from school so that he could let her in and she could decorate the kitchen. It would last longer that way anyway.

So I walked into my home to find this. And to face the fact that someone loved me enough to give me such a special gift.

It’s been, as I’ve shared, a journey over the last few weeks of realizing how much love and joy there is surrounding me. How many people hold me in their hearts. How many hugs I can get, real or virtual, when and if I want or need them. All this I never really realized before.

I’m realizing how many of us walk through life not realizing this. Not realizing the importance we hold in other peoples’ lives. Not realizing how much they care for us, how much they’d do for us if we let them. And do we let them know the importance they hold in our lives? Do we acknowledge them? Do we decorate their side porch, or their kitchen, when they least expect it?

I think the world would be even better, and life would be even sweeter, if we remembered to tell people how much they mean to us, and if we remembered to let it in when they told us the same. I think my friends sometimes roll their eyes when I say “I love you,” but I do love them, and I want them to know. I want us all to know how important and loved we are. Whether or not we’re facing the “big 5-0.”

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