A wonderful piece, Sherry — introspective (often what birthdays prompt), and extrospective, which is not encountered as often we (you, me and the others with whom your words are resonating) would like.
By the way, you already had my respect; so if someone hasn't already given it to you for your birthday, you can have my new word “extrospective”: the consideration and observation external to the self. I think this is part of what you so elegantly spoke-to today.
The other birthday present I’ll offer is an excerpt from something I’ve been working on a while. I hope you like it because your writing today has prompted me to finish it. Here’s a slice of the larger pie:
Some friends pointed to “bad people” I hadn’t seen
Actually, I had seen them, but I didn’t see the bad
They’re “not like us” — “other side of the tracks”
But “bad” and “different” were not the same thing
Where I came from. And some of the ‘‘bad people”
Were more like me on the inside than these “friends”