happy birthday to me

I love birthdays.  Everyone’s, not just my own.  My grandma used to tell me that someone’s birthday is the day when you should take a moment to appreciate what they bring to your life and what would be missing from it if they’d never been born.  She pointed out that even a distant acquaintance (say, maybe the girl at Starbucks who serves you coffee every morning with a smile) probably changes your life in some small way. I think she’s right.

My whole life, I’ve loved birthdays.  I’m the one who sends you a snail mail card even though we haven’t seen each other in years.  When I forget someone’s birthday, I feel really terrible about it.  They might not have even noticed, but I feel awful.  It’s like saying that their presence in my life meant nothing.  Ugh.  How HORRIBLE.

But, to be honest, I had been quietly dreading this day.  Work was destined to be crazy, and I had a late meeting that would eat up my evening, and I couldn’t escape the sense that only two weeks ago, I still had reservations for James and I to go away to the mountains this weekend to celebrate our birthdays.  Yes, I was not looking forward to this day at all.

But, as often happens, life surprised me.

Last night, my girls took me out to dinner.  My mother had sent Sabrina some money and some suggestions and so off we went.  I can’t tell you how perfect it was.  It was a cold and snowy Wednesday night, and the restaurant was nearly empty.  We had a lovely waitress who sang me an Elvis-inspired version of “Happy Birthday” and had my girls giggling with delight.  We stuffed ourselves on delicious pasta and desserts while they chattered at me about their days at school, their friends, and the latest books they were reading.  It was an evening made in Mom Heaven.

This morning, a ring at the doorbell, and it was the flower delivery man!  I assumed they were from my cousin, who likes to send me flowers on my birthday, but they weren’t.  They were from James.  I was momentarily floored.  What did this mean?  Why did he do this?  But then the cold wash of sanity came over me.  They are beautiful flowers.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I have already wasted too much time trying to figure out his motivations and feelings.  If he wants to share them, he obviously knows where I live.  For now, I will just enjoy the beauty of my flowers.  Nothing more, nothing less.

I got plenty of hugs and kisses from my sweet girls, and I opened a beautiful present from my mother — an Irish claddagh necklace that is just Celtic enough that I love it and just funky enough that I’ll wear it.  Then it was off to breakfast with Annie, and a heavy dose of girlfriend bonding over yummy eggs benedict, and a thoughtful gift of some delicious “pamper me” items to indulge in this weekend.

I got into work and was slammed, as expected.  Work right now is so stressful that my boss and I have literally cried to each other in the last week.  But today, the slew of texts and phone calls coming in, each sweet voice on the other end of the line sending warmth and love my way, made all the craziness and deadlines more than bearable.  Some were familiar, cherished voices, but others were completely unexpected, like my former mother-in-law, who called to tell me she was thinking of me and how special I am.  There really aren’t words for my astonishment….  Or how about the hand-delivered card from a local business-owner in the town where I work?  I still have no idea how she discovered it was my birthday or why she went to the trouble of a card, but I was genuinely touched.

My colleagues and I took a break over noon and all shared cake in honor of the January birthdays in our office, so I was able to justify chocolate cake for lunch.  I mean, I didn’t want to be rude, right??  😉  I’ve decided I should eat chocolate cake for lunch every day.  It’s pretty hard to be cranky with chocolate cake for lunch…

My afternoon was punctuated by an IM that caught me completely off-guard.  As I was furiously completing a memo up against a tight deadline, I heard the blip signifying that a Yahoo chat window had been opened and a message received.  My curiosity got the better of me and I clicked over, only to discover a name that took me more than moment to place.   It belongs to a man I went on exactly two dates with more than two years ago.  And this is what he wrote:

Hey there.  I heard “Hey Soul Sister” in my car just now and thought of you.  I always think of you when I hear that song.

I just want you to know that meeting you changed my life, in really good ways, and even though it didn’t work out between us, I think of you sometimes and always hope that you’re happy.

Take care.

And then he logged off.

He had no idea it was my birthday; you don’t exactly cover that on two dates.  And yet, he picked today of all days to reach out and connect with me.  His gesture flooded me with warmth.  Is there anything better than a moment of being unforgettable?

My day marched on.  I was so crazy busy all day, I didn’t even have a chance to check my Facebook wall to view my birthday wishes, but when I did, I practically fell off my chair… more than 70 people took a moment out of their day to wish me well, to — as my grandma would have put it — acknowledge my place in their life.  I read each message with such enormous gratitude.  What a blessing social media is, when it can offer us that kind of small but meaningful connection.

After work it was off to my meeting that I’d expected to eat up my evening and leave me exhausted.  But alas! the meeting ended up being short and relaxed and humorous.  Another pleasant surprise! And I was able to race home in time to put the girls to bed myself (instead of the nanny doing it) and to discover that my nanny had left me a card and a small present.  Seriously?  She watches my battling daughters every day, tutors them on math homework that leaves me stammering,  shuttles them to every known activity in town, and she’s buying me a present???  I swear she has a halo.

After the girls were ready for bed and we were tidying up the kitchen, I found the mail on the counter.  A package from my friend Marcus in L.A.!  Marcus and I were best friends in law school, which is kind of like saying that we survived basic training together in the military.  At various times, he’s been my best friend, my therapist, my chaperone, my bartender, my brother, my designated driver, my lawyer, and my conscience.

I opened the package and a delicate silver ring fell to the counter.  I picked it up, but even before I really saw it, I knew what it was.  And it took my breath away….

Twelve years ago, Marcus had bought me this ring, as a friendship ring.  It is silver (I don’t wear gold) and has interwoven Celtic symbols circling the ring.  The inscription is “And she was fayr as is the rose in May.”  My then-husband, Bryce, took one look at it and ordered that I return it.  I was heartbroken, but I did.  Marcus accepted it back with grace, assuring me that he understood and wasn’t surprised that Bryce didn’t feel comfortable with our friendship.  A lot of people weren’t comfortable with our friendship.

All these years Marcus saved it for me.

Now would probably be a good time to clarify that Marcus is not in love with me; he’s happily married with three small children.  In fact, I’ve never seen him as content.  No, this is about the fact that Marcus has always understood me.  He gets me.  He gets my fears and my dreams and my crazy romanticism that he doesn’t share.  And he — like so many of my guy friends — is fiercely loyal and protective of me and the good stuff he sees in me.  I am so grateful for him.

Last weekend, Marcus sent me a text that said, “Don’t ever believe that you’re not special.  Some guys see it right away, some guys take a little longer, and some guys never will.  Whether they do or not isn’t your problem.  It’s theirs.”

This birthday, I absolutely felt special.  And very ashamed of myself for the pity party I’ve been hosting these past two weeks.  I am humbled and blessed by how many people that I love, respect, admire, or cherish made a point, however small or large, to remind me that I’m special.

Happy Birthday to Me.

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13 Comments

Filed under friendships, healing, love, personal growth, relationships

13 responses to “happy birthday to me

  1. That has to be about the best adult birthday I have been privy to hear about in as long as I can remember. What a day! Happy Birthday!!! I seriously thought I might cry twice through this post, possibly three times.
    Okay….of course I’m wondering about Mr. IM – yeah…who the hell doesn’t want to hear that they are unforgettable? That’s just one of those really cool life moments, nicely played out. Love it.
    Marcus and saving the ring? Amazing. I have a dear male friend like that too. One of the best things about being divorced? Being able to reconnect with him and not have to defend our friendship any longer.
    I love that ring, that story, and this post.
    Happy happy HAPPY TPG! And yes, isn’t Facebook the BEST on your Birthday!
    Chocolate cake for lunch at least once a week – keep it a little special at least….
    XO!

    • 35MS, I’m still kind of bewildered by how perfect a day it was. Really amazing how life serves you up just what you need, before you even get a chance to realize it….

      Mr. IM is not someone that I could ever have anything with, but it’s nice to know that something I said or did in those moments with him left him with such a positive feeling. I think most days, we stumble through life just doing our best and really never know when we get it right. 🙂

      Yes, Marcus saving the ring. Mind-blowing. Need to book a flight and visit his sweet family, kiss those adorable children,and remind his awesome wife that she has something we’d all cherish. 🙂 And yes, not having to defend my male friendships has been soooo wonderful! Ahhhh… it’s like being able to exhale, isn’t it? And I’m sure my ex-husband has been quietly surprised that I didn’t end up running into the arms of any of them (they’ve all been single at one point or another since my separation), but that just shows how little he understood me, them, or our friendships.

  2. wow. restores your faith in humanity, right? I’m so happy that you had a wonderful birthday. Keep the spirit going!

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful B-day. I’m so happy that your friend held on to the ring and sent it back to you at just the right time you needed it. That made me tear up… you’re amazing.. and you should feel special. I’m so glad you had a good one!

    • Awww… thanks, Tiff. Really. And I’m glad Marcus did that, too. He really does have some insanely good timing. It’s like his super power or something.

      I should really write a blog about him…. He’s and interesting guy — full of contradictions and has left a trail of women behind him who loved him…. I’m so glad I’ve been his friend and not one of those left behind. 🙂

  4. And happy birthday to you as well from a male reader.
    John Wilder

  5. Sherry Bakkum

    What a wonderful birthday! I firmly believe that that God puts people in your life at just the right moment to remind you that you are important and valued. Your story proves my point.
    Thank you for sharing. And, happy birthday.
    Chocolate cake would have been enough – the rest if your day – yummy icing!

  6. Glad your birthday was really special TPG… Special t(late-it’s the transatlantic crossing) birthday wishes to you!
    xx from another birthday fan

  7. So glad you had a wonderful day. My in-laws missed my dd’s 13th birthday on the 8th and I am trying really hard not to be angry…….. other people’s birthdays- particularly when they are important to you- shouldn’t be forgotten.

    Celebrate your importance to others! 🙂 (and happy really lated late birthday!)

  8. DENICE

    Hello. I just stumbled across your page while looking for a celtic ring. LOVE your blog! I may have become a new fan. 🙂
    P.S. Happy Really Be-lated Birthday! 🙂
    P.P.S. Would love to know where to find a ring like the one given to you. It is very beautiful.

    • Thanks, Denice, and welcome to my little corner of the internet. I’m preparing several new posts at the moment, so hopefully there’ll be more for you to read soon! 🙂

      I think the ring originally came from the Acacia catalogue, but that was now more than a dozen years ago, so I’m not sure it’s available anymore. You might be able to find it by googling the inscription (“And she was fayr as is the rose in May”) and “ring” together and see what comes up! I love my ring and still wear it every day. Good luck!

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