Dearest Rachel –
Some days, I find myself focusing on myself – actually, that’s most days. I doubt it’s unique to me. For all that we’re forced to admit to being self-centered and blinkered when it comes to our perspective in life, the fact of the matter is that it’s the only perspective we have. Life isn’t like a video game, where we can shift between first- and third-person points-of-view in order to see around us, either to harm or help. No, we’re stuck looking forward in first-person, unaware what might be going on around the corner, or in another person’s head. It’s all we’ve got to work with, in terms of empathy.
I know that, with regard to possessions, Daniel claims that he has all he wants or needs. Shopping for him is next to impossible, and I don’t know what to tell the family to get him when they ask. But I’m pretty sure that he would just like to be remembered on his special day – or at least, not ignored. And I say that from the perspective of one who has always hated having to treat my own day as ‘just another day at the office’ far too many times.
And to be sure, his birthday has been overshadowed a number of times in the past. When it falls in the middle of the year, literally just as summer is officially starting, he’s found himself having it celebrated at so many other places than home. Indeed, he may well have had (prior to your parents giving up on returning to the island, anyway, allowing us to schedule for ourselves when to go there) more birthdays on the island than at home. And while I’d argue that gives it a sort of ‘special’ quality that most of us don’t get to experience (probably the best being the one enjoyed in the presidential suite of the Pacific Palisades hotel in Vancouver, just before the family embarked on our first cruise together), there’s something to be said for being able to celebrate at home, with all the friends and family together.
But how to do it? Were Daniel a little more like me, I could take him to his favorite place for dinner – or, given that I’ve got an unofficial commitment with VBS, lunch – because I’ve always associated food and love, somehow (which might explain why I’ve always been such a big guy – and in danger of getting more so, both because I can afford more, and because I need to fill the hole you left behind with something). But what works for me doesn’t always work for him; these days, he seems to be waiting for… something… to happen (no, I don’t know what it might be) before he darkens the door of the Station again, even though at this point, there are no rules that might preclude him from being allowed in.
And, of course, there’s that line I threw in about ‘all the friends and family together.’ Even as I was typing it, I had to acknowledge that’s no longer a thing that’s going to be available for any of us that were in your orbit. You’re always going to be missing from now on.
So, where does that leave me… and more importantly, him?
In fairness, I’d gotten a few things together to give to him already; I’d actually found a few shirts while cruising – and another from surfing the web:
…and I just received his quilt in the mail over the weekend, so that was fortunate.
My plan was to leave them on the floor by his ‘bed’ in the family room, and duck out to the local grocery for a box of strudel (It’s so weird to realize that his love for the stuff is entirely a ‘post-you’ thing) and a container of milk for my own breakfast while he slept in, like he always does.
But of course, no plan ever survives reality. This morning, for the first time in I don’t know how long, he was already awake – assuming he was ever asleep in the first place. He didn’t really have an explanation; he just wasn’t sleepy last night, it seems. Makes me wonder if I even could get him out to lunch, or if the sandman will catch up to him by then. Don’t want him dozing off into a bowl of ramen or the like.
And that may be a possibility, since I’ve just told you about his inexplicable reticence towards the Station. It seems that Kerstin is able to wrap up her workday early today, and might be looking toward a late lunch, and is talking about the Japanese supermarket and food court a little ways down the road (also just as well, since the only strudel flavor the grocery store had was cherry, which he doesn’t like any more than you did. Like I said about plans. I did find some chocolate croissants, but they’re quite literally not the same thing so… yeah). I’ve told you before how she seems to slip into your role toward him from time to time, and he seems happy to let her do so. With that it mind, I welcome her efforts to get him out of the house – and hopefully, enjoying a bit of life, especially on what should count as a special day for him.
And with all that being said, I should probably let you go for now, so I can attend to him. It’s one thing if he’s listening to his pundits and prophets, but for the better part of the day, this needs to be about him rather than the outside world at large. Hope I can let him know we’re all thinking about him
Wish me luck, honey – I’m going to need it.