I was unexpected. I wasn’t supposed to crash my brother’s birthday party, yet my burning desire to enter the world came right when Nate was blowing out five candles. I wasn’t supposed to be born a day after his birthday. But here we are. It’s almost my birthday, Nov. 8, which means it’s almost his birthday too.
I’ve spent nearly 16 years sharing family parties, cakes and attention with my brother every November. We’re treated as if we share the same birthday even though there’s 41 hours separating us. My oatmeal cake with whipped cream and his apple pie are usually the only separated part of family parties. Everything else is the same, including the striped wrapping paper on our gifts. When my mom tells people my birthday is the seventh, I have to remind her that ‘no that’s Nate, I’m the eighth mom.’
I could choose to be mad that I have to combine my family party with his. I could get upset over the fact that my parents can’t seem to remember the day I was born. I could stomp my feet and pout because I have to shop for his birthday present when all I want to do is focus on my 15 slide powerpoint highlighting my gift wishes. But I don’t.
I’m not bothered that his sweet sixteen fell on my boring 11th birthday because he’s one of my best friends. Despite our five year age gap, and that brief period of time when we were in elementary school and we competed for the title of who could be more annoying, we’re close. Since he left for college, there’s no one to join me in singing ‘A Whole New World’ while I’m doing my homework. Late night runs to TCBY are lonely— if they happen at all. And I’m no longer able to tease him about his love life or help him brainstorm for the next homecoming proposal.
But more importantly, there’s no one to share my birthday with anymore. No more leftover apple pie sitting on our granite countertop. When coming home from college to celebrate wasn’t an option for him, the focus was finally on me, and only me when November came around. Separation meant freedom; I could begin my own birthday celebrations on his actual birthday and he wouldn’t even know. But I didn’t. Despite the years I spent brooding over the fact that he got to open his presents first, Nov. 7 is sacred to me. It will always be Nate’s day. Not mine.
In my mind every birthday will be spent singing “Happy birthday dear Jackie and Nate” with a slice of apple pie and oatmeal cake.