So yontiv is over, and now I'm 24. Many thanks to those who have wished me a happy birthday, particularly those who called days in advance because they wouldn't be able to call on yontiv. (Special shout out to Moose, because it makes him happy. And because he not only called before my birthday, but after as well.)
After the first seder, when the guests had gone home and the table cleared off, I climbed into bed around 2:00am, and started thinking. I'm 24 now. What does that mean? Does it mean anything? Of course, everything means something these days. How can I really celebrate turning 24, when I know that Liz will never celebrate her 24th birthday? On the other hand, doesn't that give me even more to be thankful for, that I'm healthy and surrounded by family and friends on my birthday? How do I reconcile these two very different emotions?
As I lay there, unable to sleep, I wondered... what if I only had 36 (or 24 or even 12) hours left in this world? Have I done everything I want to do? Everything I'm supposed to do? Have I been the person that I want to be and should be?
Of course I haven't. I'm only now beginning to feel as though I can start being that person. There are so many things that I want for myself that I could not possibly have had a few years ago, like a home and family of my own. I'm only now at a place where those dreams may become a reality. Yet I am so painfully aware of how quickly life can be snatched away and, consequently, how precious every moment truly is.
I don't know how to celebrate my birthday this year. So instead of presents, I'd rather that you make a donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of Elizabeth Schmerling. I'd much rather celebrate Liz.
Less than an hour elapsed between my posting this and receiving the phone call from Liz's father. Please make donations in memory of Elizabeth Schmerling. I'd still rather celebrate Liz, now more so than ever.