It didn't feel like it. It didn't feel like this dramatic turning-of-the-page, entering-a-new-era, downhill-slide, visceral dread kind of moment. She blinked strongly to open those sleepy greens and focused on the quiet whir of the ceiling fan.
Everything feels exactly the same.
The exit from bed, sliding the tousled coral comforter aside, her solid body making itself upright, her Victoria's sleep shirt drifting over her curves, felt exactly the same.
The sight of her handsome husband buttoning up his dress shirt for work, his serious face in the mirror as he did his sandy brown hair and sprayed on the cologne she loved. He was the same.
The face in the mirror, the messy blonde bed-head, the slight darkness under her eyes signifying not quite enough sleep because she shared some downtime with her husband---and then caught up on the Wendy Williams show last night---the same. Maybe not the same as 1996, but almost.
The good makeup that she couldn't have afforded in her 20's, the same. The thickness of her hair, the smile that showed straight teeth that had never seen a cavity, the same.
Sliding on her business casual, prepping for the day, the same. Maybe not the same as before she grew two solid little people on her insides, but sort of. Definitely the same as every day since they came along.
Getting those little people prepped for school; dressed, fed, organized and out the door, the same. The final glance in the mirror at the total package that had never been guessed to be more than 32, "Thank God", she thought....the same.
The goodbye kiss on the sweet lips of her husband, and feeling his mustache brush her face and make her smile, the same.
She was alive. She felt the breath rise and fall in her lungs, heard the tap of her high heels at the end of strong and capable legs. Felt aware of the body that could still box, and lift and swim and run (if something was chasing her to kill her, anyway).
Three people from her hometown have passed away in a matter of two weeks. Someone else has cancer.
Two of those people never even saw their late 30's. Their lives abruptly halted, their children left to wonder. Someday that relationship reduced to stories about their beautiful, brave mothers that other people tell.
She had dreaded the day. The turning of the calendar, the stupid little check box that went from 35-39 to 40+.
And how many people never made it for the opportunity to check that stupid little box.
So she thanked God for His grace to be living, breathing and upright, loved by a good man and gifted five little people to watch grow into their own 40-somethings.
The parents that had crossed that line, and she, as a blossoming twelve year old, wondering why, in 1988, that Mom was so dang depressed that one day in December? We were having a PARTY. How could birthdays ever be solemn?
Now she knew. As the clock ticked-ticked-ticked on New Years Eve, she felt the marching of time into a year that ends in a "6", which meant a new decade.
But it was okay. Everything was the same today. Except that she was a seasoned, wiser, calmer person, stopping to appreciate the little beauties of days flipping by, caring for herself, body and soul, and emerging as the true self that was waiting all that time. If only she'd known then what she knows now.
But don't we all say that?
She may be 40 on the calendar. But she still feels the energy of that teenage girl inside. Except now accompanied by depth and a sweet understanding of life.
She made it. She's here, she'll go to bed with exactly the same as on day 364 of age 39. Age ain't nothing but a number! And tomorrow, God willing, she'll awake to the same sounds and sights of her life, smile, and carry on with appreciation of being given another day, another birthday to look forward to.
And, quite frankly, now that's all she cares about.