Everyone who knows me knows that I make a big deal about my birthday. I've always loved birthdays ever since I was a kid. And I celebrate them with gusto as a result.

You might think it's because I'm a fiery Leo who likes to be the center of attention (only partially right) but, as all daughters do, I blame my mom.

Every year, my mom made a huge deal out of our birthdays. To this day, on my birthday, my mom calls me and sings me the entire "Happy Birthday" song over speakerphone … including the "and many more" part. And every year, I pretend to dislike it but I secretly love it (shhh, don't tell my mom).

I didn't really realize until I was grown why she always made such a big deal about birthdays. My mom lost both her parents within a year of each other by the time she was 16. She never talked much about it but I saw it in her eyes just a few weeks ago as she, herself, celebrated 60 years of life – she's deeply grateful for every moment she has been on this Earth to see the sun rise and set with each passing day and to watch her children and grandchildren grow into adulthood. She knows firsthand how different it could all be.

Because that's the thing — life is precious. And if we're not careful we'll spend our entire lives taking it for granted, never truly seeing how incredibly blessed we've been … until it's threatened. Anyone who's ever lost a loved one can attest to the crystal clarity and stunning simplicity through which they view the world when a life is ended. We have a only moment on this Earth. Your life and everything in it is a gift.

So every year that the powers that be see fit to grant me another trip around the sun, is truly something worth celebrating.

It's not just another year older, or another step on this slow march to the grave, it's another 365 days of the privilege to be alive, to exist, to take up space, to experience life in all its sweetness and all its bitterness.

So why not celebrate? For the ability to give and receive love, to add my voice to the world, to see my nieces grow and to taste everything this life has to offer.

It's not perfect, but it's mine. And for that, I am truly grateful.

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