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Location: Midwest, United States

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Celebrating Birthdays

I was never one to celebrate my own birthday. It’s just not part of my makeup. I never felt that my continued breathing for one more year merited a celebration. I never felt any different, any wiser, more virtuous, or more accomplished.

My rather absent-minded approach to my own birthday changed dramatically after 1988 – the year my Father passed away. In my family, we always celebrated my birthday and Fathers’ Day concurrently. I always enjoyed that. I relished showering love on my Father. For the past 18 years, my birthday/Fathers’ Day has become a day of quiet contemplation as my heart and soul wander off to the realm of memories.

I’ve now reached that stage in life when I no longer know my own age. When asked, I must pause and quickly compute (current year) – (birth year) = age. Invariably, I’m shocked to discover that I am older than I feel, far older than I thought I was.

* * *

The birthdays of friends/loved ones are something else entirely.

There’s a certain hierarchical structure in my remembrance of birthdays. I simply know the birth dates of my innermost circle of loves (those who’ve had the greatest impact on my life and being). I begin to contemplate/celebrate their birthdays weeks in advance of the actual date. It’s an autonomous reflex. This rather select group of individuals has shaped me, sheltered me and sustained profoundly...that I find myself celebrating their presence on this earth for weeks (or months) at a time. I could never express how dear they are to me, or how much joy and spiritual wealth they’ve brought into my life. Their birthdays are something to be truly cherished, feted, and commemorated.

There are those whose birth dates are a bit more elusive. I know their birth months, but not the exact date (my second circle of love). I check the calendar to remind myself. Still, their birthdays mean a great deal to me. I always try to tell them so.

* * *

My loves are scattered far and wide. While I hunger to love them face-to-face, it has become almost impossible to do so. Letters, e-mails and phone calls serve to convey my feelings, but they barely scratch the surface. I’m simply not adept enough with words. The joy I experience, the reverence and love I feel, go well beyond the scope of my vocabulary.

* * *

Today, I’m celebrating a birthday…quietly and privately…and with every fiber of my being.


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