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Happy Birthday Candles on Angel Foods Cake by Rob J Brooks on Flickr

“Happy Birthday Candles…” by Rob J Brooks on Flickr


Today is my husband’s birthday.  He turns thirty.  A milestone birthday that we had planned to share together in some pinnacle life moment kind of way.  But he is in New Jersey and I am in Florida and I feel pretty blue. 


I always had a hard time with my birthday.  As an international adoptee, born in Bogota, Colombia, and adopted at 4 months of age my birthday was always a loaded day; often full of more questions and melancholy than anything resembling celebration. 


This year, however (although my birthday is also looming a month plus a day off from my husband’s), all I can think about is his.  I know it is important to him.  I know he loves to celebrate it and this year his celebratory spirit has been deflated by our distance, future uncertainty, and separation of not just place but a family divided.  I feel more awful today than a hundred melancholy birthdays of my own put together. 


We have talked about celebrating a joint birthday on the Friday after mine next month and that would be nice.  Yet no amount of frosting can make this day sweet.  It is what it is–a sad day to be divided. 


And yet, at the same time I think with a bit of a smile of the older gentleman I encountered in a waiting room earlier today.  I was eavesdropping or as I like to think of it partaking in a professionally affiliated social study of humans in their environment.  This kind of experience, one purely observational, can often bring rich personal rewards and insights.  This was such a moment.


The stout, stocky man with thin but crisp white hair and glasses smiled “Hello” at myself and the man sitting to  my right.  They he leaned in towards the man to my right, and whispered with a bit of glee, “I have something to tell you.”  He said his daughter had called that morning and asked him how he was doing to which he replied, “Well I have to go to the doctor today to get a tooth removed and my ankle has been aching some.”  The man’s daughter shouted, “Thank God! That’s all!” 


The man telling the story laughed at his own recollection and smiling hobbled on his injured ankle over to his seat.  The man he had whispered his tome of wisdom to smiled as well and said, “Perspective, huh, I guess it is all about perspective.” 


I sat in my chair two seats away and smiled as well.  I began thinking of today and all of the reasons I was sad, which were real reason, and within my own reality I tried to find my own perspective. 


Perspective.  Especially when we are down it is something that is so hard to find.  Even more so I find it hard as what I am feeling today is not so much pity for myself but sadness on the behalf of someone else.  I wish with all of my heart that I could make this day wonderful for my husband but I know that we are apart and that is not going to change and I understand that I cannot change his experience because I want it to be different.


So what do I do about me?


I have decided, at least on my own behalf, to try to carry the elderly man’s tome with me today and try to have a little perspective.  I want to bring a mantra of, “That’s all?” about my circumstances. 


Yes, we are apart.  Yes, it is his birthday.  But that is all.  We are both healthy (well with me that is always relative with my countless chronic funks but relative to me I’m pretty good).  We are together, in marriage and in love, if not in geography.  We have jobs in a job-less economy.  We have strengths both individually and as a collective duo; quite a few of which have been enhanced by this time apart.  Our seperation is temporary; we are separated only by occupational circumstance not by hemispheres or continents or years away at war.   


I will accept that today has its hints and hues of sadness but I refuse to drown in it.  I will try to maintain a “That’s all?” focus on my path forward and carry that mantra nugget forward, in my secret “Just in case I need it” pocket of tricks for mental health and emotional well being.  I am grateful for my chance encounter and my ears capable of a quick eavesdropping/social assessment–however you want to look at it. 


I miss my husband desperately, more than I could have imagined, but I am grateful for all the good and that helps me with my perspective on the bad.  This focus is work but work that is worth it to give a bad day a little less tartness and bite. 


Perhaps tonight I will even be inspired enough towards proactive action to FINALLY get started on my required reading for my upcoming first day of yoga school!  Perhaps. 


The following is for my husband who I am thinking about constantly today:


The simple lack of her is more to me than other’s presence.

Edward Thomas


And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depths until the hour of separation.

Khalil Gibran

May 2020


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