There’s something strange about birthdays. You wake up in the morning and you feel different, like everything must be special today. But it’s just a day, like any other. Only your perception of it is different.

As a child I waited excitedly, for what seemed like eternities. How could a day ever live up to such expectations?

As the years got relatively shorter, and birthdays became more frequent, a twinge of dread began accompanying the excitement. Birthdays started to look limited.

This year I tried a different approach; just to see it as a day to reminisce, check in on myself, and appreciate what is.

I stopped craving gifts a long time ago, but I can’t help but notice the gifts that life has presented me. First of all the opportunity to experience this precious life, in human form. Coming to Korea, I was pleased to find out that Buddha’s birthday is celebrated in May, just before or just after my own, maybe one day, while I’m here, they will come together on the same day. I took refuge and my precepts in May, 2008, and two weeks later, still in May, I met EunBong. A year later, a week before my birthday, Fina was born.

I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday then to appreciate what’s happened in my life, and the people who have come into it in May!


7 responses »

    • Haha, Thank You, Chong Go, for pointing that detail out! Perhaps it would be more apt to say I incurred all the “labour,” ;~). Actually, there wasn’t much of either–Joseph was born just over an hour after my first contraction. Our journey to the hospital involved a long and winding dirt road, full of bumps and potholes but bordered by spectacular natural maritime scenery! I’m sure that passage imprinted a lasting impression on my cellular memory–and surely on Joseph’s, as well!

      My doctor was away at a conference and the head nurse on Obstetrics, an old WW II vintage battle-axe that should have retired years before, didn’t appreciate the urgency when she asked me how long I had been in labour. She admonished me for panting, saying I’d best save my energy for later. (The expression on her face let me know she thought I was a total wimp–or worse!) When I could, I told her to ask me how long my first labour had been; and told her it was two hours.

      At that point she went into action and bustled me down to the labour room. I had knee high leather Frye boots over my maternity jeans so my husband hauled both items off and hoisted me up to the examining table. The nurse didn’t even have time to check my dilation before Joseph shot out “like a football” as Joe, the consummate sports fan, phrased it! He and the nurse caught Joseph in mid-flight. He was as blue as a baby Lord Krishna, coughing and spitting amniotic fluid. Joe immediately asked why he was “that colour,” and the nurse replied “It’s cold in Nova Scotia and he just came from a warm bed!” Within a few seconds a pink flush overtook the blue; his umbilicus was severed and he was wrapped in a heated flannel blanket. He let out a few lusty shrieks then promptly fell asleep in my arms.

      By that time, the doctor on call had arrived to attend to me. He was actually a missionary who had recently returned from the jungles of South America. The first thing he did, after ensuring I was in no distress, was to take one of my hands while laying the other on Joseph’s little form, and he recited a beautiful prayer, which concluded with a blessing for Joseph. And so it was that Joseph made his entry into the world…

      The next day a friend, who had been down on Surette’s Island when Joe arrived home to share the news, came to visit me. She reported that when Joe entered our neighbours’ cabin, everyone stopped speaking and stared at him in awe. Illuminated by the soft glow of the kerosene lanterns, was a clear blue aura encircling his head.

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