Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bittersweet

Yesterday it was my birthday,
I hung one more year on the line.
I should be depressed,
My life's a mess,
But I'm having a good time
-Paul Simon


OK, that's a slight exaggeration. I wouldn't say my life is a mess, though there is a steady level of chaos. But overall, I am having a good time.

Yesterday we had the traditional Anthrofamily birthday bagels with lox and cream cheese for breakfast, and a sushi dinner with chocolate cake for dessert (the disfigured cake was redeemed with some chocolate sauce drizzled on top). I got some sweet presents, including random "precious" items from the toy shelf lovingly wrapped up by the kids. Napoleona kept throwing her arms around me, smothering me with kisses, and saying Happy Birthday Mama four gazillion times.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of my stepbrother Jonathan's death at the World Trade Center. I never knew him, but I have become close to my stepfather over the intervening years and have seen the toll this tragedy has taken on him. Now that I live near NYC I think about Jonathan often. I think about his children, 11 months and 3 years old at the time of his death.

My birthday was not "ruined" by the events of 9/11/01 as many people comment. Changed forever, yes -- the reality of our mortality and life's transitory nature has been brought close to mind.

I've known mothers who will not let their family members out of sight without saying "I love you," out of fear that one of them might die without hearing those words one last time. I cannot live in fear like that. I resolve to make sure in every way possible that my family knows how much I care for them, but from a foundation of love, not fear.

Everything that I read and hear of Jonathan tells me that he lived with exuberance and joy, and that friends and family rejoiced in his passions and affection. That's a better role model, I think.

3 comments:

(un)relaxeddad said...

That was a good post to read.

Happy birthday, belatedly! Hope you got some presents you wanted - a little bit of honest materialism is not an entirely bad thing.

Henitsirk said...

Thanks URD. I did get some nice gifts. Nothing wrong with material things on special occasions!

Helen said...

Happy Birthday! I'm sorry I'm so late in sending my wishes.

I was horrified to hear about the death of your stepbrother in 9/11. It brings home the senselessness of violence and how innocent people are the ones who suffer.

I am a bit like that, always worrying that I will never see family members again (not because I have experienced a great tragedy like this - I think I have an anxiety disorder!) I am trying to be more outward-thinking. I've realised recently how much my fears restrict me and the things we do together as a family.