We all like to be remembered on our birthday, don’t we? Especially those among us who live alone and for whom a birthday may seem a lonely milestone. In fact there are many who live alone within families, for reasons of personal history and struggle. When we were children, birthdays were special and easy times – a visit to the McDonald’s perhaps, or a party hosted by our parents. Pinatas and chocolate cakes. Birthdays were things that we looked forward to, because a birthday meant being a step closer to the elusive threshold of adulthood, when we would have license to make decisions on our own: eat what we wanted, no longer have to justify the quality of our penmanship to mother or father, watch tv – or surf the Net these days, I suppose – for as long as we pleased. However, when adulthood came, it wasn’t, for most of us, a brilliant sunrise or a great sunlit valley we finally spread out beneath us after cresting childhood’s last hill. Rather, it took the form of being conscious about things. For many of us, life felt less like a march through a sun-dappled forest and more like struggling through a fog – bumping into things and fumbling around an indistinct life-scape. Adulthood came of becoming conscious of our mistakes and how they subtly changed the course of our lives and touched the lives of others. It meant stepping off childhood’s path of certainties and into the complicated terrain of knowing that our actions and choices have consequences. This knowledge can be a lonely burden. It is one that is difficult to share, even with our most intimate friends and family. As we grow older and more complicated, the landscape of our motivations becomes so intricate and ill-defined, it would take hours of conversation to give someone else the context to understand it all, wouldn’t it? And the world affords so few precious moments during which we have these conversations. I think that is why it is such a comforting thing to have friends who care for us and understand us intuitively. The little gestures of others, thoughtful gestures of thanks, observation of our quirks, and sage advice, become signs telling us that we have touched the lives of others with enough kindness that they have remembered us fondly enough to drop by with a story, shake our hand in a crowd, or excitedly share their news of a personal success or maybe even a personal sadness. For me, the birthday wishes I received this year and in years past are part of this song – a song of companionship and caring. Some of them were sparked by a reminder on social media, but regardless of provenance, each involved a choice. A choice to share a thoughtful word, a birthday song, a wish of peace and adventure on a special day. For these words and thoughts and feelings, I am very thankful.