Birthdays on Face book are fun! What a delight to wake up this morning to all your well wishes. Thanks, my friends. I have a lot to be grateful for…my family…all of you. I celebrate.
Yet, even on this day of happiness, many of my thoughts travel eastward and they settle in and around the families of two of the gentlest souls I’ve known in my 46 years. First, my heart hovers near the beloved brother of a dear high school friend. The brother, Michael (Woody), passed away recently, quite unexpectedly, and his departure from our here and now has thrown the close-knit community of Hollis-Brookline High School (in New Hampshire, where I grew up) and his family into a rush of sadness…and disbelief…and I can’t stop thinking about Woody and his sister, my friend. They were a very close brother and sister unit and the loss is deep.
Then, another tender man, Scott’s Uncle Iran, struggles with severe illness in a NJ hospital. As he fights to regain stability and I hear stories about how weak he now appears, his skin no longer the deep dark brown I remember, but rather something more pale and wan against the stark white sheets of his hospital bed, I recall scenes of the lean muscular man, who for countless weekends many summers ago, joined his nephew, Scott, to scramble about in the frightening heat and terrifying heights while they hammered away on the roof of our new house…the roof! Together, the newlywed, Scott, and the master handyman with the broken English, Uncle Iran, tore off craggy pieces of old roof and replaced them with endless rows of smooth dark-gray-black shingles until the top of our house was fixed and stood tall and solid on the short side street in Montclair.
I think of these men on my birthday. I send out my thoughts and my love to their families who are struggling and hurting. And I share these thoughts with all of you in my Face book Post today. You read my words and think about what I’ve written for a moment or two and maybe you think of these men and their families. And you and I have a connection. And that connection is a way to celebrate our lives. That connection is a gift for me…and maybe for you…on my birthday.