With my birthday coming up soon, I have been reflecting on some of my childhood birthdays.
· Although I don’t remember it, my first birthday was spent in the Netherlands meeting the relatives on my mom’s side of the family.
· On my third birthday, my parents gave me a Fisher Price “schoolhouse,” which I opened while wearing a toothpaste-green sleeper with feet. How could they have known my future career?
· My 11th birthday was also spent in Holland, where I also got my ears pierced. My sister recollects that this caused a stir when we returned to Canada. My dad did not approve!
Birthdays should be special, and it always means a lot when the people around you make them memorable. I can recall two birthdays (35th and 37th) spent in the Emergency Department with a child in need of medical treatment. When people hear this, they are always so sympathetic that I was “robbed” of my birthday. But I don’t see it that way. Here are more details about one of those birthdays.
It was a Friday in 2006. My three-year-old daughter had been suffering from a fever for three full days with no sign of improvement. She seemed to have an ear infection, and it needed antibiotics to clear it up. My doctor could not see us, and his office suggested the emergency room. After dropping my 7 year-old son off at school, I took my two daughters to the hospital. I had hastily packed a small sleeve of round vegetable crackers and some juice. I also had a roll of lifesavers in my purse, left from a “Sweet story book” bought at Christmas time.
It ended up being a full day of waiting, and once you were in the queue, you couldn’t leave to get something from a convenience store. The crackers and lifesavers somehow sustained the three of us until 5 PM when we were on our way with a signed prescription. Another blessing was that through a courtesy phone, I could contact a parent at the school to take my son home and care for him until we could get there.
While we were waiting I came to the realization that I had parked illegally and might be facing a ticket and fine upon leaving the hospital. By grace, there was no ticket on our van (and I never parked illegally again.)
When I got home, I was definitely exhausted but I could see God’s providence with me that day. My husband had hot food ready when we got home, and the prescription led to a quick improvement in my daughter’s health. I tried to count my blessings with the awareness that if I had lived outside of Canada or North America, my crisis would have been amplified many-fold.
To me, a perfect birthday can happen anywhere because God’s presence goes with us and can lift us up in the inevitable challenges we face in life.