…and quickens, especially as we age, and becomes but a blur of fleeting moments, some glossed with joy, others washed with a tinge of sorrow, each ever more precious in its remembrance as the years ever so gently burnish its patina.

And so, time often seems to pass by stealthily, one day to the next, one year to another, the sense of self exalted, seemingly undiminished, unchanged. Such is the gift of life, allowing us to be wholly and fully in the present, and yet, cunningly, ever so often sneaking up on us, unaware and unbidden, and reminding us of its passing.

So it goes, birthday to birthday, year to year, as the age that is just a number, adds yet another to the candles on the cake, and every so often I catch a startling reflection of myself in a mirror and marvel that I look more like my mother than my daughter, yet wholly myself. I glimpse my mother’s facial expressions in mine and feel her words on my tongue and detect the familiar inflection in her voice. And I smile, rather than wince, grateful for the depth of perception and deep well of appreciation that comes with age.

It is an awareness of how fully and richly I’ve been able to live my life, of the blessings I’ve been given, of the good fortune I’ve received. And an understanding that there is truth in the adage that every gray hair tells a story, as does every laugh line and wrinkle, every hole in my heart from a loved one lost, every new burrow there for each one born.

So it goes, birthday to birthday, year to year, as the life force propels me forward and yet its energy grounds me, gently pulls me back, as my life flashes by in brief, ephemeral moments, as it is weighted in broad swaths of time that acutely remind not only of its passing, but of its edifying goodness.

And as I ready to mark yet another year, ending one and beginning another anew, suffused by memories, surrounded by those I love, my husband, my children, my grandchildren around the table, candles to blow out and wishes to be made, cake to be eaten, there is only one wish to whisper, one toast to mouth, that comes from a full heart and a sense of overwhelming gratitude.

L’chaim.

To life.