A Birthday Letter

It is May 5, 2019.
I can hear the raindrops falling upon the roof of my house and spattering on top of the skylight above my head. I am in my loft, cozy and quiet at the time of daybreak. The sky is a dark gray but the leaves are bright green. The lawn has returned to life and spring is here. The streets are wet but the roads are quiet. And for now, I am listening to the lullaby of the rain, which has been going on for days now.

I am thinking about a long walk I took along the beach in Ft. Lauderdale.  I was thinking about the realization I had about life and how everything is only temporary. Eventually, we all change. We all move and inevitably, we all switch forms.

I used to try to figure out random things. I tried to count how many days I’ve been alive. I tried counting how many times I took the train both to and from the city. I would count how many days it was since April, 1st, 1991 or how many days since December, 29th 1989.  I tried to count how many working days I had left before my retirement but I stopped trying to figure this out because the number was sometimes depressing..

I wonder how many airplane trips I took. How many times have I driven over the 59th Street Bridge or sat in a movie theater? When was the first time for either of these two? The first movie I can recall seeing in the theater was back in 1979. The movie was Rocky II, which I’m sure I was in a theater before this. However, this one stands out in my memory.

I have a memory of when I was a little boy. I was lying in the back seat of the car, sick as ever, fever and uncomfortable. I see this memory more like a picture. I can see a glimpse of this, like a still-frame moment. I knew something was wrong with me. I just didn’t know what it was. I was scared and very young. I knew I was on the way to a doctor and eventually a hospital.

I don’t remember the first time I had to stay in the hospital. I can’t say that I remember much of the last time either—then again, the last time I was in the hospital was after a motorcycle crash. I landed on my head. Broke my collarbone, had a concussion, and a bunch of my old friends were running around the waiting room, screaming like lunatics because someone dared my friend John Coffee to hang out from the 17th floor window (or something like that).

I’m not sure if I can remember the first time I flew down to Florida as an adult. I remember Boca West though. I remember fishing in the pond behind the apartment complex. I remember the little apartment in Delray Beach. And I remember the piers at Deerfield. And the rain that time; I stood out there and the rain came down while I was fishing from the pier. The sky was light grey, spraying down, and the water across the ocean below was this beautiful shade of pale blue. I remember the beach, which was empty. No one else was around but me. I remember the realization that times like this never last forever. Then again, I suppose nothing lasts forever. Everything is only temporary. Besides, forever is a really long time. Forever is an idea that only lasts as long as we live in the flesh.

Sometimes, forever can last a few days or a few years and times will seem like centuries ago. For example, it feels like that day on the pier on Deerfield Beach happened in another lifetime. It feels like I haven’t seen you since, forever. My old place at 2683 Rowehl Drive was in a different lifetime. And you or me, or the time I cooked pasta with chicken in a Putanesca sauce for you—this all happened in some weird alternate existence.

I have memories, but they feel more like pictures to me. I can remember a time when we were in Disney. I remember you looking up at the sky after a fireworks display. You were so happy to see what you saw. I was too deep in my mind to find the same kind of enjoyment. But you though, — I remember you wished I could let go of the things which always dragged me away from the moment. I wished the same thing too. I know this was frustrating for you. I know this because this was frustrating for me too. And since I was frustrated, I made the ones closest to me frustrated as well.
Maybe this is because I was young. But no. Maybe this is because I didn’t know how else to be. Maybe I was frustrated because I lacked the words to explain how I felt. Or maybe I was just tired of feeling the way I did. I was uncomfortable. And living uncomfortable is an uncomfortable thing.
(You know?)

I’m not sure if I remember your last trip up to see us. You were uncomfortable. You were in pain. Although our pains were different, I remember the morning we went out for breakfast. You had asked me about my time when I was away. You had asked about my feelings and if I felt disregarded or tossed away. I knew where this was coming from. I knew it was hard for you to be where you were, in an assisted living home with doctors and nurses and people coming into your room all the time. No real privacy. No real social life—at least, not like it used to be. No freedom. No views like the ones we used to see and no walks like the ones we used to take.

I don’t know why life happens the way it happens Mom. I think this is a question I would usually ask you. But you’re not around to ask this anymore. Well, not really. I mean, of course, I can still ask you but your answers come in languages I don’t always understand.

I’m not going to lie to you Mom, sometimes I feel alone. Sometimes I still feel like that angry young man back in Disney, out of place and uncomfortable, and watching you look at the sky in total amazement, and wishing I could just exhale and let everything go. But here it is now, raining hard outside, and this morning is your birthday. It’s your birthday but the phone doesn’t ring where you live now. The mailman doesn’t deliver there, which is why I come here, to send this letter out in the universe with hopes that it reaches you, wherever you may be.

I have to go soon, Mom. I created a new empowerment program.
Today is the first day. . .
Not sure who will come or who won’t. Hopefully the weather doesn’t get in the way. The idea is to help motivate people to get through their roadblocks and to prepare for the upcoming week without going back to old habits or uncomfortable routines.

Oh, and I was on the news again. I was part of a program that was televised. Out of all the interviews, they chose me, which was a nice thing. I feel like something is going to happen soon. I’m not sure what. I just know something is on the way or in the mail. It would be nice if you were here. It would be nice to share these things with you. But I know you can see me. At least, I hope you can.

I counted how many days it’s been since the last time I was able to call and wish you Happy Birthday. That was 1,461 days ago. One could say this was 48 months or four years since then. Strange, because like I said, it feels like this was another lifetime ago. Fortunately, time is a relative thing because time is timeless where you live now. And the definition of temporary is nothing more than a word, which means you are only temporarily elsewhere, and someday (if I choose to believe) we will all be together again.

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Enjoy and
Sleep well.
I miss you.

Love always
Your son,


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