christmas, valentine’s day, mother’s day, my birthday. the four dread horsemen of the calendar. from a distance, wonderful and appealing. the moment of impact? horrific. well, maybe not the moment of impact. it’s the night before. i always think i will be forgotten by those i love. and everyone else. and i’ve had those years.
i was put up for adoption by my parents when i was three years old. after twenty two years, i used a private detective to track down my natural/biological parents justin and aleta. today there’s open adoptions. there’s tracking your parents down on facebook. or maury povich.
i thought i had a good (or at least okay) relationship with these new/old parents and it surprised me that both forgot my birthday the first year we were in contact. i would like to say that i didn’t mind that justin and aleta didn’t remember. but i did. i howled and whined. i was a petty, sniveling, blotchy faced wreck. but in private. a few days later, justin reminded me that my infant half sister casey’s birthday was coming up and i said it was interesting that we shared the same astrological sign. a dozen roses showed up the next morning with a belated birthday greeting. as for my mother aleta, the matter resurfaced in october. she called me in a fury. i had forgotten her birthday.
“but you never told me when your birthday was!” i wailed. “and besides, you forgot mine!”
“how was i supposed to know yours?” aleta countered.
“because you were there!”
as you can imagine, this interaction didn’t help our relationship. i think i hold aleta responsible for my adoption although since aleta and justin were married it must have been a joint decision at some level. i know if my ex-husband had ever asked me to put up joseph or eastman for adoption, i would have balked. not that he ever would have. eight years after this conversation, aleta terminated our relationship over an issue involving my payment of her health insurance. justin and i have our ups and downs–and some years he remembers my birthday and some years he doesn’t.
on july 22 every year i have a massive anxiety attack slash pity party. this year was no exception. it started at five o’clock with the shakes and chest pain. it ramped up with crying and shaking. i was utterly and completely convinced that i was forgotten, alone, without purpose, and about to die. it would be months before anybody would notice my demise.
and then something odd happened. a facebook friend posted a picture of a birthday cake on my profile page. another posted a link to a recording of mickey mouse singing happy birthday. then a link to youtube showed up, and it was my friend jose’s youtube post for my day — you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VluSLAGdwY&feature=youtu.be
and there were messages and pokes and comments and postings. and i started to write thank you’s. and more thank you’s. i rifled through an album of fifty two pictures created by my friend nit, whom i had traveled to visit in las vegas — the messages embedded within the pictures are really wonderful and there’s one for every year of my life. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2284501568258.62614.1720445328&type=3&l=5d25bd20fa
i needed to say thank you to each person and that took me most of my birthday but it was a wonderful way to notice, remember, reconnect with each friend. because even if facebook automatically puts a notification on your page reminding you of which friends are having birthdays, it still takes thought and care to write out a greeting or post a picture or photoshop an image just for me!
i realized that i had cried because i thought i was forgotten and i sure as heck wasn’t. in fact, all told, i wrote eleven hundred notes of thanks yesterday and today and i’m still behind. sending each thank you changed my perspective, and turned me around.
thank you facebook!
and also thank you to facebook for an interesting feature: every time a friend posts on your wall, your mutual friends are notified. so, for instance, when my son eastman’s friend will (who was the 176th facebook friend i met with) sent me a “happy birthday mrs. presser” eastman would have been informed. and in a remarkable coincidence eastman called me about twenty minutes after will’s message. he says he’s sent me a package but that it won’t get to me for a few days.
meanwhile, my other son joseph (the sixty first facebook friend) sent me a present that will change my life. i will assemble it today!