Hold the phone. Stop the presses. Check the stars for once-in-a-century alignment because the universe has gone weird.
It’s October. And Missy’s birthday actually fell on … Missy’s birthday.
No, I haven’t been drinking cold medicine for fun, though the dazed look on my face sure might look like it. That’s what happens when you get ambushed by reality.
You see, this practically never happens in the Rochat household. Or at least, at a frequency reserved for Halley’s Comet, Cubs World Series championships, and smash hit rap musicals on Broadway.
We are the masters of “birthday observed.”
It’s not from spaciness or a lack of care. Missy’s birthday in particular is a major highlight of the year for both Heather and myself. Usually, it means that our developmentally disabled ward gets to hit her favorite bowling alley for an afternoon of pins, pizza, and presents while every available relative in the area cheers her on. That pretty much lifts her into second heaven right there. (Subsequent layers of heaven are unlockable by the presence of dancing, Legos, art opportunities, Harry Potter, and/or live music, especially if the Face Vocal Band is involved.)
But “Missy’s birthday” and “Missy’s Birthday, Observed” have been as much as three weeks apart sometimes. It’s not just a matter of “Oh, this is the closest weekend” – sometimes it’s fighting like mad to keep it in October at all.
There’s the minefield of other birthdays in the family. The wild card of Heather’s health. The challenge of finding a day when even five of us can be in the room at the same time. Heck, one year Missy’s birthday fell in the middle of a major bowling tournament, when there was hardly an alley to … well, spare. (rimshot)
And it’s not just Missy. Between luck and logistics, my February birthday has often gone well into March, or our July anniversary into the back-to-school sales. It’s not the precision of a rifle shot at a defined target, but the run of a World War II bombing raid that lets off all its ordinance in the expectation that something will get hit.
And these days, I suspect that we have a lot of company.
Life happens. And these days, for most of us, life happens at high speed as every moment bombards us with more demands for our attention. Whether it’s the job, the latest crisis, or an electronic environment that sends out more alerts and distress signals than the starship Enterprise, we are deluged.
Is it any wonder that our full worlds collide, bounce, and hold each other off so often?
That makes it more important than ever to step back sometimes, to make some times protected and special. I know, that’s easier to say than do. (Believe me, I know!) But I’m going to say something that may sound heretical.
This isn’t a battle against the calendar.
It doesn’t matter when you make that time. Only that you make it.
The calendar doesn’t care. The clock doesn’t care. They’re tools, and they’re even useful tools. But caring belongs to people.
If a person knows they’re loved and cared for, you can celebrate them any day of the year. After all, in a way, you’re already celebrating them every day of the year.
If you know that this is the moment when you can regain a bit of peace and balance, it doesn’t matter if the sun is high or the stars are shining. It matters that you’re aware, that you know what you need, and that you value finding it.
The world may be chaos. The choices may be limited. But the time you choose will always be the right time – because you cared enough to choose it.
And if that choice lets you cheer on a broadly smiling Missy at a bowling alley, so much the better.