I have the auspicious honor of sharing my own birth date with two other family members…an uncle one generation older, and a cousin one generation younger. My Gramma proudly celebrated her son, granddaughter and great grandson each of us born June 9. I have always thought this timing coincidence was pretty incredible myself.
So, eleven years ago, when I awoke on the morning of August 10, I laughed out loud when a sharp abdominal kick broke my membranes and sent me into labor. It was a few days before my due date, but the calendar already held two birthdays in my husband’s family. It seemed likely that my soon-to-be-born child would have birth date companions herself.
It was a long 18 hours of labor, but my daughter made her way into this world at 10:54 p.m., just in time to join her uncle and her cousin as birthday buddies.
We had some wonderful birthday buddy moments, especially heartfelt between uncle and niece. We had the joy of living in the same city, so we had the joy of celebrating together. I have pictures of the two of them, one meticulously decorating a princess cake while nursing a scotch…the other sneaking her fingers into the frosting on the other side. A few years later, on what would be the last birthday jointly celebrated, it was my daughter who baked an easy bake cake. She spread it thick with frosting and sprinkles, and home delivered it to her Uncle who was convalescing weeks before what would be his final hospital stay.
August 10 has been bittersweet since then. Each year, it is a joy to see my daughter growing more fully into her own self. But, the absence of her older birthday buddy is still palpable.
There is a birthday buddy bond that transcends time, and extends somewhere between this world and the next. It feels palpable in the morning air, and flickers in the birthday candles on the cake. It has brought tears to my eyes today, unexpectedly and without warning. It shines in the moon tonight, and echoes in the song of the mourning dove that was mysteriously perched outside at dusk, framing this day with melancholy melody.
Tonight, I laugh and watch my daughter open her presents and eat cake. I also remember and cherish the memories etched in my mind. These birthdays are a kind of thin place. I feel the younger birthday buddy being lovingly watched over. I pour a bit of scotch into a glass and leave a little slice of cake on my counter, too.
I am drinking a little toast myself tonight: to birthday buddies, and small points of light.