Today is my oldest son Noah’s 30th birthday. Just writing that causes me to want to additionally offer that I gave birth at the age of 10, but I will refrain because I know it borders on the line of being not very believable (alright, truth be told – I was 12).
As regular readers know, Noah is quite the special child. He has a crackerjack wit that is dripping with sarcasm. He has the capability to be both one of the most thoughtful people you will ever meet and the most infuriating. He will give you the shirt off his back, but he will also call you out immediately and without apology for things he thinks are either hypocritical or just plain dumb. Noah is intensely loyal and in return others tend to be intensely loyal to him. He tolerates his mother’s behavior, crusades, and misplaced ideology, but not without comments about future placement in the old folks’ home.
Noah is also a disabled veteran. It was during his time in the military that I learned what it felt like to have a child fighting on foreign soil on behalf of our country. I was so grateful when he returned from Afghanistan and finally exhaled when his discharge from the Army was official. Through Noah I have come to better understand patriotism and its cost. Through Noah I have learned about the tragedy inherent in combat. Through Noah I have come to more fully appreciate the value of life.
I feel very lucky to have Noah here with us in North Dakota to celebrate his 30th birthday. I know there are many families out there who do not ever get their kids home. Today as I celebrate my family’s fortune and Noah’s 30th birthday I want to acknowledge those other families who have not been as fortunate as my family has been…families who have lost loved ones in conflict or to suicide. There is a thread that weaves through all of our lives and as I celebrate the life of my son I likewise celebrate the lives of the brave men and women who fought for this country who don’t have the luxury of having more birthdays. The living, in remembrance and honor, must be that much more grateful and respectful of each day they have for all of those who have no more days.
As such, in remembrance and honor I celebrate the life of my second born with a knowing gratitude and silent hug to all those families who cannot celebrate such a milestone. That is the gift that Noah has given to me…an understanding of the duty the living bear.
Day one thousand one hundred and seven of the new forty – obla di obla da