As my birthday fast approaches, I can’t shake the sadness. When I was a little girl, I was always thrilled my birthday was coming. I remember even wearing a birthday tiara to the mall to pick up my birthday cookie cake.

However, as the decades creep on by, I get a deeper sense of sadness. I’m not worried about death. I could care less about getting older. Yet, the sadness is still there dancing its jig.

I tried making a big deal out of my birthday. I thought if everyone could help me celebrate my birthday, I could keep the sadness at bay. I also thought my birthday was the one day everyone who was happy I’m alive could celebrate that fact.

It seemed egotistical and maybe it was. But when I understand I was trying to push my real feeling aside, it makes sense for me to be so bold.

This past week, I think I may have pinpointed the reason my birthday is hitched on the sadness train.

My dad.

I can’t remember one birthday he was around for. I’m sure he was around for them. I don’t know why he wouldn’t have been there to celebrate my birthday. But, when I go through the film strip of my memories, I only have a handful of them with my dad as a presence. None of them are my birthday.

In my head, birthdays are so very important. Yet, I can’t remember my dad being at one of my very important days. To be realistic, he only had about four of them he could have been there for. I don’t count years 1-4 because I can’t remember them. Too bad he was most likely there for them, which is a sad irony. Years 5-9, again, I can’t remember a birthday.

I think when my birthday comes along, I am left with the realization he is gone. One would think he’s birthday or death anniversary would make the realization more palpable. But for me, it’s my birthday.

For ever year I get older, I am still left with the emptiness feeling. Am I supposed to be here?  Was I a mistake? Would my dad share a piece of cake with me, if he could?