My First Birthday

First of all, I shouldn’t be here. I was supposed to die last August from a double brain aneurysm, but I did not. As it is my first birthday since that episode, this one means a bit more and deserves some deep reflection.

As you might be aware, I tragically lost my mom way too soon to a freak lung illness the same day I left Neuro-ICU last year. It’s been a long road of pain — emotional and physical — on the road to recovery that has led me to this day.

It’s a bittersweet day. I know I am supposed to be so thankful for this gift of life, and I am. But Jesus, there is much more to it than that. I am grateful for this second chance at life. I am grateful that I have all of my faculties. I am grateful that my body and brain are finally healing and the pain is less and less every day.

To be honest, I have not really enjoyed my birthday for many years now. I used to love it. But then it became more about what other people wanted — parties, expensive dinners, gifts, (all things I am grateful for and I know were done with the best intentions)- instead of the things I really wanted and like for my birthday. For all of my success and experiences, I really am a simple man and don’t need or want much

Something that has been weighing on me heavily as this day approached was that this would literally be my first birthday without my mom.

There are a lot of “firsts” when you lose a parent you are close to, especially your mom. My mom and I were very close friends and hung out every week, so it is especially hard. For instance, the first Christmas and New Years and holidays, or the first time we didn’t celebrate her birthday with her. Earlier this year I flew to LA for a quick trip and realized it was basically the first time I did not call or text my mom to let her know I landed safely, as I have done for probably every flight I have ever taken.

And so it is my birthday and I will not receive that wonderful call or voicemail from my mom at 10 am-ish — as I have every single year of my adult life — wherein she sweetly said in her best Jewish Mother voicing, “It was the hottest day of the year (x years ago) when you came into this world and changed my life, my sweet son. Happy Birthday Son, thank you for choosing me.”

It’s a hard morning. I have so much to be thankful for on this birthday in particular and yet, there are some tears today. That’s ok. That’s part of fully living this life, whether you are just stumbling through it, or given a beautiful gift of a second chance, like me.

From an early morning birthday walk. “Stop and smell the (whatever these are)”

Today I will cry.

Today I will laugh.

Today I will sing, I will write a song.

Today I will look out into the world and recognize beauty.

I will revel in happiness and be open emotionally.

I will enjoy the hell of out of a Mexican Coke too.

It’s a weird thing. It sucks, I miss her.

But I know every child goes through this “first birthday” without their mom.

I hope this brings you some peace if you’re going through it as well.

I hope your day is wonderful.

Here’s to first of many, many more birthdays.