My birthday. In some ways, it was sad. Not because I'm depressed about getting older but because of the sad things we experienced that day. We listened to and read quotes about the Irish Potato Famine at the Irish Hunger Memorial in lower Manhattan in the driving rain which soaked all of us. At another point earlier in the day, I found myself face to face with the mother of a firefighter who died heroically during the attacks at the World Trade Center. I went to her after the tour to ask her for directions but when I stood face to face with her, all I could do was break down in tears, kiss her face, and say, "I have a son too. Thank you." I hope she didn't mind that I kissed her. I couldn't help myself. She hugged me, teared up too, and I walked away by myself to cry in the corner.
I was wrecked for the rest of that day. Completely wrecked. Even the incredible Chinese food at Sammy's Noodles in Greenwich Village only marginally lightened my mood.
Once we got home, Ted went out in the rain to get me canoli and tiramisu from some place called "Hot and Crusty." Needless to say, it wasn't the tastiest dessert I've ever had. Later that night, Ted and I sat on the couch where he told me about what happened to him on the bus in Harlem (which you can read here). I pulled out the photo of the firefighter hero Mr. Michael Cawley, given to me by his mother earlier that day. In the photo, his smiling face is between two NYC firetrucks and the twin towers. Under the photo it says, "It's not the years in your life but the life in your years."
I had a lot more patience that day with my own son. Her son was only 32. Mine is two. That's why I kissed her face on my birthday.