Today is your 15th birthday. It is, by all measures, a day to celebrate your fantastic, jubilant and blessed life. And I am missing it.
Thank you for feigning shock and sadness when I told you that I really couldn’t blow off my firm offsite to watch you blow out your candles this year. If there was any element of real disappointment, you hid it well underneath your adorable melodrama. Clearly, we are on the cusp of a new relationship – an adult relationship – where you may, at times, find yourself comforting me as opposed to the other way around. I needed your permission to be absent today, and I am so very lucky that you have reached the age and maturity to grant it wholeheartedly. It almost makes me feel better
For the past 15 years, I have woken you up each morning on this day with a gentle rendition of the Happy Birthday song. If the day was a school day, I made sure dinnertime had an element of celebration. Moms live for birthdays – especially yours. We don’t talk about it often, but it is as much a celebration for us as it is for you. The days you and your brother were born were indeed the most exciting, momentous, and meaningful days of my life. And an opportunity to relish that joy once a year is not easily forsaken.
Breathing the same air as you – on the occasion of your birth when you breathed that air for the very first time – has always been paramount to me. But here I am in Vermont at a work offsite. Out of cell range. But not without a connection to you. You will be on my mind all day for sure.
While this is the first birthday of yours I will miss, it will certainly not be the last. So, I am considering this year to be a timely harbinger of life to come – as it absolutely should. Already my presence on this day is beginning to feel ancillary to that of your friends. I am no longer the sole source of your happiness and nurturing – and that is a good thing. With every step you take in your own direction – away from Dad and me — I remind myself that I would never want it any other way.
Still, there is a part of me that will always need to be needed by you. So when you say it is okay that I am not here today, I am both relieved and sad. There is also a little voice that sometimes whispers in my head, asking, “Does he know how much I love him?” Missing your birthday doesn’t help me answer that question with a great deal of confidence. So I may have gone a little over the top this weekend, pre-emptively cramming in the birthday revelry meant for today. Thank you for celebrating on my schedule instead of yours.
And just one more thing while I have your attention: Had this been an ordinary birthday and I was around and able to partake in my goofy traditions, I may have just left it at that. But the distance this year compels me to tell you here what you would never stand for in a face-to-face conversation.
You – at 15 — are all kinds of awesome. You light up the lives of so many people, including mine. I am so very proud the person you have become. I will always love you quietly, but fiercely. I hope you know how much.
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy.