I have long struggled with my birthday. I'm not terribly fond of it. I always felt like it was a lie, somehow. No one who was actually present for my birth had ever been around to celebrate it with me. Celebrating felt wrong; I always felt uncomfortable.
One year, in college, I even hid in my dorm room for the entire day. It seems odd to me now, but I know why I did it. I didn't want friends making a big deal about a day I had such conflicting emotions about.
In recent years, I've been a little better about it. My partner and her family celebrate birthdays. And she enjoys doing something special for me. Her happiness is a bit infectious, so I've tried to put aside my long-standing dislike of the day. I'm not being dishonest. She knows that I am incredibly ambivalent about the day. She is always very respectful of that.
Over the weekend, I had my first birthday since reuniting with my first mom. I was anxious for weeks before the day. She had mentioned, months ago, that she loves giving gifts, especially at Christmas. She idly mentioned that she might forget birthdays, but she loves Christmas. I didn't think she would forget my birthday, not this year. But I was worried. This was the first chance I had for someone who was present, the most important someone, to celebrate my birthday. I was worried I'd be devastated if she forgot.
The day before my birthday, some of my fears were put to rest. She sent me a package. I didn't open it until the next day, but I knew she had remembered. I didn't care what was in the package. She had remembered. That, for me, was everything.
I went out later that night. There was an event at midnight I wanted to attend, so I was out until four in the morning. I checked my phone shortly after 1 AM. She had e-mailed me a happy birthday message just after midnight. She even said she thought about calling (and I wish she had, but she had no way of knowing I was still up). That sent me soaring on an emotional high that lasted the entire weekend.
We did actually get to talk the evening of my birthday. It was, in a word, unreal. I don't think I've ever been that happy on the anniversary of my birth.
It seems silly to me, a little, that I was worried she would forget. But I've spent over three decades wondering if she thought about me at all. And since our reunion, I knew that she had. But my birthday brought up some of the hardest things to deal with surrounding this whole experience. And that she remembered, that she called, that meant everything to me.