In Which I Survive Having A Birthday

In Which I Survive Having A Birthday August 23, 2017


Goodness, all of you on Facebook and Twitter are So Kind–that’s not the word I’m searching for. I spent the whole day looking for words, which are usually right at my fingertips, but found myself speechless. All the birthday wishes and friendly regards and prayers made me feel the worm that I truly am–If you knew the blackness of my soul, you would Not rush out to wish me another happy year. Nevertheless, I am so grateful. Still groping around for a way to say thank you that’s way more deeper (see? English is completely failing me) than just Thank You.

Every year I like to get on the inter-webs complain to about my birthday–it’s never the day that I want to have. I wish it would go right by and forget that I’m here. I mean, of course, not really. The alternative to not having a birthday is pretty bleak, and final. So I’m not wishing for that. I just wish somehow that my angular self could get over the unshakably programmed ‘I’m going to boarding school today’ sense that overrides all other knowledge. It follows me around like a cloud for like thirty-six hours and then melts away into the sunshine.

It doesn’t help that I have the best husband ever who has wrongly convinced himself that I am some kind of fantastic being, getting better with time. He must be completely blind to reality. Which seems strange because on the whole he has impeccable judgment and a dazzling intellect and I depend on him for all my happiness.

Anyway, he brought home this beautiful tart, which I did share with the children.


But not too much. I ate the last quarter of it in front of them, their eyes watering in sadness. It was completely delicious and dulled the gnawing existential dread into momentary submission. Oh, and these lovely items from friends did too.


Also, for two days I cleaned with a furious passion, which helped, and was providential because today I have the ridiculous plan to begin school. I’ve decided to just start, even though I haven’t sorted out the school room. Sorting out the school room is going to be Part of school, it’s going to be an integral component of my cunning plan to pull off a brilliant and dazzlingly choreographed scholastic experience. Maybe I’ll let you know how it goes, or maybe I’ll shove it down into the dark caverns of my psyche, along with the tragedy of boarding school and birthday always going together like jam and clotted cream, or maybe the kitchen floor and all the dirt from the garden.

The great and true miracle, of course, is time itself. So much maligned by even people like me for going along too quickly, for not divulging enough of itself, time is actually a good thing. Imagine if it did just stop, and wherever you were in that instant, you had to stick there forever? It’s like those ghastly well meaning people who stop you in the grocery store as you’re trying to pry your sobbing toddler off a box of chocolate frosted sugar bombs, the baby in the sling pinching your neck as hard as he can, the six year old bellying up to a fully body whine, who look you up and down, narrow their eyes, and literally say out loud, ‘Treasure every moment.’ You stare back in angry confusion and decide, in that split second, whether to go ahead and call the police yourself for the violence you’re about to inflict on their personhood, or whether to smile painfully and back away.

Time, in other words, is a great mercy. It keeps going, carrying you past all the moments–the good ones and the bad ones. No matter how stuck you feel, how impossible life appears to be in a single moment, the next moment something will have shifted. Time itself will have. How curious that God would work out all his purposes so slowly, so painstakingly…emphasis on the pain…in time. And yet we curse it so often, and wish it would be other than it is.

There, don’t you feel better? I know I do. And now I will go poke around and see if I can maybe just lick off the cake platter.


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