Birthday

2 minute read

Birthday

2 minute read

Today used to be my birthday. Last year, that changed, and I no longer recognize January 13th as anything other than another day.

That’s actually not entirely true. January 13th is a heavy day for me, it’s one day after my daughter, Chloe, died. Ever since that horrible day in 2021, my (now former) birthday felt like anything but a day of celebration. It was hard to avoid; since I had set my birthday in places like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, I was met with posts from friends and acquaintances who, very clearly, wished me well and were trying to send me a nice message. In 2021 I simply did not look at them. In 2022, I looked, but didn’t respond, beyond a polite “thank you” to some tweets. In 2023, I’m not sure I could even manage a polite reply… January 12th weighed too heavily on me. It felt horrible, and honestly, people wishing me well just made things… life… feel worse. It wasn’t their fault, the prompt would pop up on their side, and they would wish me “the best birthday yet!” or perhaps a bit more subdued “HBD”. It really wasn’t them, it was me. It was the date. It was the reminder of loss, it was a heavy heart and dark thoughts. I realized last year that I had come to absolutely dread the day, the day that most people look forward to.

Several days passed, maybe a couple of weeks, and I was talking with my wife, Crissy. I had a thought, “what if I just change my birthday? I can do that, right? Not only is it a horrible time of year for our family, but it’s always cold. I hate the cold.” She didn’t miss a beat, “I think so. What date would you change it to?”

“August 13th,” I said, “the day before my dad’s birthday, and far away from January 12th. Also, it’s usually really warm that day.”

And with that, it was done. Just like that, we changed my birthday; or at least the day we recognize it. On August 13, 2023, I celebrated my 51st birthday for the first time, since January 13th no longer meant anything to me. I didn’t tell too many people, but I changed it on the various networks. I got a couple of messages like, “Did I get your birthday wrong? I thought it was in January”, and I gave a brief but honest reply.

Today, January 13, 2024, was just another day. My oldest daughter called me from school in Hawaii and said, “Happy birthday, Dad!” I said “thank you, but…” and then explained the change. Her reply? “I totally get that. Wow, do I get that. Okay, forget everything I just said, and I’ll get back to you in August!”

With that, we both laughed. I haven’t laughed on my (old) birthday in four years, and it felt nice. I look forward to celebrating with friends and family later this year.