I generally think of birthdays as a joyous occasion, spent celebrating life, reflecting on the past and planning, just a little, for the future.

Some years I even like to extend the celebration for a week (or even a month!). I can be a little overindulgent.

This year I got my birthday cake a week late (on purpose) and was gifted a hat (not for my birthday exactly but gifted just the same). All good.

June hatThe day itself was a lovely day but my sense of celebration was tempered, subdued even, by the events of the world and the circumstances of life closer to home.

For the first year ever, my dad did not send off my birthday card. I got a card to be sure but knew immediately it was in my mom’s hand and not my dad’s. He had the task, no it was more of a commission, to send the cards acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries and other events. He was the one who wrote the brief notes of love and encouragement, signing his name and my mom’s as a unit marking the occasions. I think he can barely sign his name now and certainly is beyond tracking the special dates marking his children’s lives.  My Sunday phone calls with my mom are a litany of what he can and cannot do; every week seems a bit more constrained. I shout into the phone (he’s pretty deaf), unsure if he hears me or can identify who I am. It is more than a little loss.

This slipping recognition turned up in another way that made a bruise against my heart. Like my dad I am the one that pays attention to birthdays and such in my dance group. At practice or when we go out for a pint, we usually acknowledge the birthday celebrant with a song (or three or four). So what happens when the birthday girl is me?  That’s right — not a sound, not a word, not a card, not a thing.

I wonder why it bothers me so and I wonder why no one said, hey it was Linda’s birthday Sunday.

We human beings have so much uncertainty about our place in life and love even when surrounded by secure bonds.  Life does not go according to any plan even as we try to map out some kind of regular terrain. We must simultaneously rely on ourselves while, as social beings, we long to connect with others.  The recognition that we have been born and continue to be alive in this space and time. that we are acknowledged and remembered for who we are is a fundamental longing. It’s not just about birthdays but about us in the human chain of being reaching hands together.

Happy birthday to you.

Happy birthday to me.


Taking this pix over to Hat Attack to enjoy Judith and the lovely array of hats