Happy Birthday Pops

How old would you be if you didn’t really know how old you were? 

Is the candle we add to the cake really a year worth of memories and experience? 

Or is the life we live measured simply by the pureness of each moment? Things that have happened, but not defined us. Moments of laughter and moments of sadness. Times of accomplishments and the growths of friendships. 

Today, August 15, is my dad’s birthday. He would be 59. I am celebrating the day with my news of serving for the Peace Corps in Costa Rica come March 2014. Ironically, my dad actually helped his own father in a business in Costa Rica in his early twenties. He built a home for this amazing country in his heart over the time he spent there in the mid 1970’s. He had some great stories to tell me about the business experience he gained, the glances of intercultural life he immersed in, and the friendships he made within the country. 

After the Peace Corps application process, I would “pray” quietly in my heart for a placement in Costa Rica. No matter the placement, I would have accepted and made the absolute best of the country I’d be serving, but I thought being in Costa Rica would be a full-circle journey for me. 

I awaited anxiously for the e-mail from the Peace Corps placement desk. One month ago, 2 weeks after my 23rd birthday, I received the email that I will be serving for Costa Rica come March 10, 2014. I want to say I was in shock, but more than anything, I felt my dad right there with me and I knew he heard me. 

I have spent many years questioning whether he was really with me or not. Questioning the after-life and questioning how strong our connection really was for me to not feel his presence with me constantly. I thought I would honestly be able to SEE him and HEAR his words all of the time. Someone once told me, “Aimee, you can’t ask for a sign and receive a tree burning down right in front of you.” Naively, I asked, “Why not?”  

This year has surely been an eye-opener for me. Learning to let go. Learning to have an open heart. Learning to dismiss expectations. Most of all, learning to BREATHE. I finally started to see little things that had traces of my father all over them. Instead of assuming coincidence, I gently smiled and knew it was him. 

For me, being 23 means I have at least 77 more years of life. The next two of those years will be spent in Costa Rica. My dad’s life was cut short at the young age of 50. But to me, he lived to be 100. Just like I intend to. My god-brother once said, “It’s weird how some people come and go and you can forget about them…then some people feel like they’re still alive…to me, that’s a measure of how well they lived, the best measure.” Although 50 years old is half of a life time, my father lived that 50 years with everything he had. 

So, how old would you be if you really didn’t know how old you were? Maybe our age is just an illusion in our minds. Make the years count instead of counting the years. Happy Birthday Pops. Can’t wait for Costa. 

 

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