Today is my 55th birthday.

I thoroughly enjoy celebrating my birthday. Whether quietly alone or in a home full of people, I am joyful all day. Knowing I have another year to say, “Here I am. Making a difference. Every day.” It’s rejuvenating!

I don’t know how I began. I am adopted. I never heard the story from my family about how I came into this world. Was it a long labor, was I head first or feet first? Was anyone truly happy to see me when I took my very first breaths?

I have heard that in life, what really matters is the dash. Let me explain. When you look at the headstones in a cemetery, there is a dash between the date of birth and the date of death. What really matters in the end is how you spent the “dash”. The time between.

We each have a unique story of our birth and will each have a unique story of our death. No two people come in and leave the same way. Yes, we each take a first breath and we each take a last breath. What really matters is that time in between, each minute, each hour, each day, each month and each blessed year.

How do you want to live in those years? And how do you want to live up to the end? You have a choice. Each day is a new opportunity to decide how you want to live. I hear some patients desperately tell me they want to live when they are coming close to the end. At all costs. And I do wonder if they have been living all these years? Really living.

I know when it is my time, I am ready. Any day, any time. I give my heart and I am in service to others. These are the things that have me feeling alive and loving life. And no machines for me, no hanging on to have a heartbeat, my dash is what matters.

“We turn not older in years but newer every day.” – Emily Dickinson

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