ten years ago today I almost ended my life. i was celebrating my 21st birthday with my “friends” and family in Las Vegas; i mean, what could be more fun than that, right? i spent a substantial part of the day hiding in the stairwell of my parents timeshare, crying uncontrollably as my then fiancé, now wife, tried her best to console me and convince me life was worth holding onto. to this day, i still wonder why she would marry someone like me. she’s always there, you know? i think if we could just communicate to the world how much it matters to have a friend who’s always there, more would get married, and more would stay married. i could never forge a bond with another as strong as the one i have with that woman, and i could never want to break it. her friendship has literally been the difference between life and death time and time again.
as a kid, i always loved my birthday. my parents made my sister and i feel like it was your own personal holiday. we never had a ton of money, but money was the last thing mentioned on your birthday. i remember going to Benihanas year after year for my birthday; we always got to choose where to eat for our birthdays, and that was the place to pick for a season. as an adult, i wonder if my parents secretly liked us choosing it, as i now know you eat there free on your birthday; no matter, really, because the feeling can’t be erased. not from my memory anyways.
i started to sour on the idea of my birthday in college, but the trip to Vegas helped to push me over the edge. when i was 20 i had friends that were fun, but by 21 i realized all i really had was some people on a similar adventure who had agreed to travel together for a season. in Mexico i tolerated my birthday. on the one hand i felt guilty for being so much younger than my friends, and my birthday only seemed to remind us all of that; on the other, i was always on edge, looking around the corner for that thing that would simply prove my point, that my birthday was no longer meant to be a time of happiness for me.
i am told my grandfather doesn’t celebrate his birthday really. i am told this is because the two men he loved and respected the most died on his birthday: Martin Luther King Jr., and his father. that always sounded so sad and romantic to me as a child. the idea of romance has been grossly adulterated in the modern mind. romance is not sappy love stories with Fabio on the cover; romance is an intense appeal to intellectual introspection in the light of overwhelming emotional influences. to lose your heroes on your birthday is romantic. four years ago was the last time i was truly excited about my birthday. i have the fortune of being born at the very same time that future physicians of America find out if they will or will not be hired on to finish their training and move forward in their careers. it is referred to as Match Week, and every year my birthday is either days before or in the middle of it. that first year i was sure, i would be moving on. that birthday in my mind was a culmination of so much hard work and a celebration of what lie in store. but four years hence, i have never again been hopeful on my birthday. i feel sorry for my wife. she loves me more than any other human on earth, and i her; i love pouring over her in love and showering her with affection, especially on her own special day. but she doesn’t get the same luxury. every year as my birthday approaches, i grow more guarded, more reserved, more difficult to give a gift to. i put on a show for my kids, they deserve to feel like their love is received by their father; but i don’t hide my heart from my best friend. in days like these, it often feels like she’s my only friend.
i had a follow up visit with a neurologist yesterday to discuss the results of my MRI and whether or not we had found a reason behind my debilitating headaches. no real answers, though my sinuses are quite inflamed. no tumors, no polyps, nothing to explain it. the doctor wrote me a prescription for a medication that is useful in migraines. i was initially excited, but then bummed. the medication is also used as an antidepressant, and i have determined in my heart to allow my Depression to be an instrument which brings me closer to God in service to Him. not only do the side effects of antidepressants scare me (and yes, when you’ve seen patients struggling with lifelong physical problems from these drugs, they will scare you), but the spiritual consequences do to. if i rely on this pill, will i rely less on God? will this change who i am? are these headaches really so bad to warrant such drastic measures? i almost feel like it’s a trick, like my primary care doctor wrote a note asking for help in getting me on antidepressants. remember, i’ve been behind the scenes, i know this goes on far more often than most realize. your doctor wants you to take something, but you refuse, so they send you to a specialist that comes up with some excuse for a similar one, and bam! they tricked you into doing what they want, not what you want. i don’t know, maybe i’m just paranoid. Match Week is next week.
in my life I have had a few birthdays and received a handful of gifts, but God gives me the best. He gave me my wife 14 years ago, my son 8 years ago, my daughter was in transit 4 years ago, and another kid, baby p, is cooking now. i don’t like my birthday; well, that’s not fair. i do. i hate Match Week, and i pray that one day soon either i’ll get that Residency, or God will have moved me to a different place in my life. then my birthday can be as it ought, no spectre of fear hanging overhead, no dread, no worry, just enjoying my family and real friends worth having, being thankful for my God who both created and saved me, and loving the fact i am a Spring baby, so the weather is almost always awesome and the sun usually shines. now if only i could no longer have allergies, so i can actually enjoy the weather without sniffling and sneezing all day.