I was once involved with a man who did not understand why I made such a huge fuss about my birthday. “It’s just another day,” he’d say to me, as I’d look for the perfect restaurant to hold a dinner party; the perfect dress to wear at the perfect dinner party; and the accessories to complement perfection.
As my special day drew closer, I’d say to him, “What are you getting me for my birthday?” He’d never respond, but somehow, I managed to convince myself that he’d do something special for me on my birthday. Three years is how long we had known each other and I knew that the length of time that I had known him guaranteed that I would receive a birthday present from him. On my day of birth, he sent me a Skype message that read, “Happy Birthday.” I did not respond. Birthday wishes brought to me via Skype instant messenger could not be my birthday present. He knows how much I appreciate phone calls from my friends. And he was my best friend.
The day drifted. I had received birthday wishes from relatives, former professors, friends, co-workers, and strangers, yet I did not even receive a phone call from him. Around 7 o’clock that evening, while my girl friends were driving me to dinner, I heard my phone ring. It was him on the other line, “Happy Birthday!” At this point, I was disgusted that he had waited until the end of the day to call, but when you love someone, the sound of the voice is enough to brighten up your day.
“Thank you.” I said slowly and carefully. I made up some excuse about my battery being very low and hung up the phone.
“What was that?” my girl friends asked.
I explained to her how upset I was that this was his first time calling me all day. Maybe he’ll do something with you later, they said. But in my heart of hearts, I knew that this guy was finished giving me birthday love.
I cried myself to sleep that night. I thought about all the fun we had in the last three years. I thought about how much of a fuss I made on his birthday. I thought about how perfect I wanted everything to be for him and the amount of hours I invested on making his gift – a slideshow that featured captions and images of our favorite moments together. I thought about all the little things he was doing to help me understand that I was no longer important to him.
On my birthday is when I realized that this guy and my journey together was finished. We had come to the end of our road and there was no further that we could go. He knew that birthdays were as important to me as basketball was to him. As the person I confided in the most, he knew what hurts me and what makes me happy, yet he did not plan to do anything to celebrate me.
At church, three days later, I said to a friend, “I think I need to date a man who values birthdays; he’ll understand why I make it a big deal.”
She smiled, “When you find the right one, he’ll want to celebrate you, not just on your birthday but everyday. You don’t have to worry about that. He’ll understand what makes you happy and he’ll want to make you happy.”
I don’t know what it’s like to have someone by my side who will celebrate me. Someone who will go to great lengths to express to me how much he values me. Someone who surprises me at my job with flowers, cards, and my favorite candies. Someone who will write a note if he does not have the money to buy me something nice. Someone who will make me feel like a million bucks no matter what he decides to do for my birthday. But I am ready for that special someone who will celebrate me.