Today, November 11, is my husband’s birthday. This day hasn’t always been happy for him, though. In truth, even I have done things in the past that reinforced his angst about his birthday, which is something I struggle to atone for every year.
I never really put much emphasis on my birthday, which falls on December 5 in case you want to send me a gift. It’s too close to Christmas, and December/early January babies can relate to the “combination present” all too well… but birthdays aren’t just about presents, that’s not what this is about… but message me if you want to drop a few coins in my PayPal, I mean, I’m not rude, I won’t decline.
Anyway, I never saw my birthday as a huge deal once I reached adulthood. Okay, my 30’s. I think it was around the time I was 29 and one month out that I just got over my anxiety about turning 30 by just saying, I’m 30. Just like now, I tell folks I’m 43 even though I still have three weeks of being 42 left. Boom, I’m over it. Ask anyone who really knows me and they’ll tell you that they would never peg me for being middle aged anyway. I don’t know how to be a middle aged man, and not sure if I’d want to be.
For as long as I’ve known my husband, though, his impending birthday has always given him agitas. I won’t go into details, but he is not unique in this. To many people, birthdays are not always happy occasions, and some view them with a sense of dread. For one, they are a reminder of the fact that we’re getting older. They’re mile markers on a highway that at some point is going to end. Then there’s the fact that we often associate a lot of “shoulds” with our chronological age. We “should” be at this point in our life because that’s what we were told would happen. Why, I’m 43 (almost), so I “should” have accomplished X, Y, and Z by now. Life often has other ideas, though, so when we’re not where we think we should be, it creates stress and worry, and all too often a longing for what was or to find the fork in the road where we made the “wrong turn”. Maybe if we go back we can fix the errant lark and put ourselves back on course. I’ve thought that many times. So has Chris. So have all of us. We are not alone in thinking, “what if?”, especially if we feel there’s a ticking clock stapled to our shoulders.
I’ve made it my mission over the last few years to make Chris’ birthday special and meaningful, for no other reason than that is what he wants, and he is my husband. I also do this to make up for the times early on when I didn’t remember his birthday and the times where I was not mindful of his feelings and took away what little enjoyment of his birthday he felt at the time. I can’t go and undo those things, but I can make sure that future birthdays aren’t ruined on my account. Besides, there’s no better way to fade the scars of bad memories than by creating new, meaningful, and joyous ones.
As his birthday draws to a close, I want to express how thankful I am to know and love somebody so wonderful and special, caring and sensitive, and strong in ways that sometimes he is unaware of. I am the one who feels that every day I wake up next to him that I am being given a gift. I’m so grateful that we made this day amazing and memorable, and it didn’t take much. No expensive presents or elaborate plans and schemes. Just two people sharing their love and company together. Over cake and cheesy movies.
I wouldn’t go back and trade the past, knowing that I would not have had today if I did. So much for the “what if”.
Love you, Chris.