Thursday, September 16, 2021

REPOST: My Last Birthday

In honor of my son's milestone birthday, in which he enters the double-digits, I'm reposting this piece I wrote for another now-deleted blog.  This was written about 10 months before we were able to pick him up.  I was right that it was my "last birthday" but I didn't know how much we'd have to go through to actually meet him.  As he turns 10 in a couple days, I'm reminded of this concept that came to me 7 years ago.  His Birthday has been going on for about a month already, and mine will be lucky to last part of the day it falls on...

....and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Today is my last birthday and it’s bittersweet.

Except, perhaps, when I was very young, I’ve never been super excited about birthdays anyway, but today I’d rather not have one at all.

As anyone who has a birthday around the 25th of December will attest, there is a rule about sharing of holidays.  Essentially, each holiday is equally diminished or one gets swallowed up by the other.  Christmas will overpower a birthday.  A birthday will overpower Thanksgiving.  Valentines’ Day will supersede a husband’s birthday, but not a wife’s.  

That’s just the way of it.  

…And a child’s birthday will blot out that of a parent.  Next year I won’t have a birthday.  Barring any horrible circumstance, we’ll go get our son in the next few months.  The adoption process is nearing a close, we’ll be in India soon meeting Enoch, son of Jared and Candice.  His birthday is two days after mine therefore this will be my last birthday.  Next year we’ll have a third birthday party for Enoch.  Next year, we’ll have some toddlers and parents over to play with bright colored toys and make messes on the carpet.  Next year we’ll have noise makers and cartoons marking this time.  A third birthday for a child is infinitely more important than a 36th birthday for a father; adding one to both sides of that equation doesn’t make it any more equal.  

So this is my last birthday before mine is a blip on the radar as we approach my son’s special day.  I’ll be ok with that, as I said, I don’t get too excited about birthdays.  Part of me thinks I should treasure this one, though, because it’s my last one.  I should take some time alone to read or sip coffee.  I should spend quiet quality time with my wife.  I should suggest a walk with my family while we can still monitor our one child somewhat adequately.  I should enjoy being the parent of one child before the chaos of two children is a reality.  

But as I said, it’s bittersweet.  It’s hard to treasure my last birthday when I so desperately long to not have a birthday at all.  I want Enoch Shant Arunav Begg’s birthdays to be what we celebrate.  I don’t want to answer the question, “what do you want for your birthday?”  I’m ready for my parents to forget it’s mine because they’re wrapped up in their grandson.  I’m ready for no one to notice that I’ve turned 50 because they’re so happy that my son turned 17.  

And I’m sad that the reality is not present yet.  

I’m sad that my 35th is not shared with his 2nd.

I hope his birthday at least fills the orphanage with joy, that it supersedes the normalcy of the day.

I hope that it’s not a lonely day for him.

I long to process the sadness with him when we discuss it for years to come.  

I pray that news of a loving family preparing to travel is a gift that we both can receive on this bittersweet day. 

And I wish that, even in India, he could know how much I want to give up my birthday for him. 


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