Today is my mom’s 60th birthday. Weird.
I thought the same when my dad had his a few years ago. It didn’t seem possible, but there it was.
When you go abroad long term, it’s inevitable that you miss out on a lot of things. There are birthdays, weddings, babies, divorces, deaths. All those things that make human life human life.
They exist here too, of course, and sometimes you become part of them as well. There have been weddings and births among friends here since I’ve been here, and deaths, too. Just like the threads of life bind people together in one place, they stretch across distances as well.
Sometimes it’s easy, and a digital message of goodwill is all it takes. Other times it’s devastating, but you soldier on. Sometimes people feel that they’re missing out on too much “at home” and the time comes to return. Sometimes they don’t have a choice. Sometimes they want to return but circumstances say not yet. Every case is different.
Though I’ve missed out on eight years of birthdays now, eight years of celebrations, I have made it back for the occasional big event. I also acknowledge that I am profoundly lucky that my parents, and some friends, have the means and health to travel here to visit. In fact, my parents are planning a Christmas trip here this year. Not everyone has that luxury, and I’m thankful for it.
It makes it a bit easier to miss those really big milestones when you know that sooner or later you’ll be able to meet in person. Then you can celebrate the birthday, or just the circumstance of being in the same place at the same time, in whatever way you see fit.