20,089 days ago today was a Thursday. The temperature that day in Indianapolis started in the low 50's. The sun would rise and fall, with the afternoon temperature near 80. The early fall day was more like a summer day. I took my first breath at 11:15 PM, and entered the world bruised and sore, having been manipulated and then brought forth by forceps. To this day my ear is creased where the metal piece of equipment bent and broke the cartilage in my ear as I was pulled into the world.
My parents were young, and had just celebrated their first anniversary of marriage a few weeks before my birth. My dad still tells the story of the "days of labor," my mother endured, including the more than a dozen fathers he saw come and go while waiting on my arrival.
Someone asked me what my first memories were as a child? I think it was music. I'm pretty sure I was laying somewhere and I could hear singing. Since my father and his brothers would often get together and sing, I would like to think my first memory was of my dad and uncles singing.
A patient recently asked me when did I first know of Jesus or God? My response? I don't ever remember not knowing that there was God and Jesus, who somehow together were making sure everything was okay. I'm not sure if it was my Papaw Williams who was a minister, or perhaps my Great Grandmother DeAtley, or maybe Reverend Mangold at the Christian Church, who told me that Jesus loved me, always.
I think I realized that there was truly a God the day I walked into the hospital room where my sister had just given birth to her first son. Holding him, and realizing that every day lived up to that point mattered, but every day henceforth somehow needed to mean more.
A person asked me today if I could go back, or relive some time, or change something in my life, what would it be?
The first thing that came to mind were the late night hours of rocking both of my babies, but I quickly realized how amazing they both are now as adults.
I thought about some people I have hurt along the way, while finding my own journey, or from some decisions I have made, and I hope that I have asked for forgiveness, or told them that I was sorry.
I think I actually love being this age. I can count more blessings than disappointments.
Just a while ago, I was asked, "What do you have planned special for your birthday?"
In all honesty, the most special thing happened before the sun even came up this morning. A call came from one of the nurses I work with who asked if I would pray with a family about 3:30 am this morning. One of our patients was in the last moments of life, and I got to say the final words for he and his family before he took his last breath.
As I sit and finish up a few more notes today, while reading so many expressions of love shared by family and friends on this birth date of mine, I am overcome with this sense that all is well.
Someone asked me, "What is the most important lesson you have learned in your life?"
That question left me silent.
I made a joke and said, "Not to post the first thing that pops into my head on Facebook when it comes to politics, family, or religion."
The most important thing that I am still learning is that I am capable of love, even when I struggle to love myself, and that every person has value. I still have hope, even when the situation seems hopeless.
I can't begin to describe how wonderful everyone's words have meant to me today. Even the questions asked have reminded me that I have some amazing people in my life.
20,089 days. Now that is something to celebrate!
Stay in God's grip!
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.