Happy Birthday

Why do we only reserve happy birthday songs for birthdays? It seems to me that the happy birthday song is appropriate for a number of celebratory events involving turning a new leaf:

A few days ago I learned that a very dear friend of mine is very sick. The news was devastating. Amplified by my not being at home, my sorrow for my friend and his family grew. I spent hours praying, thinking, and cruising Facebook for any news on his health. Thankfully, his brilliant daughter discovered a format to keep friends and family abroad informed. One where people can post stories, words of encouragement, prayers, etc.

Yesterday, his son posted a lovely entry referencing Man of La Mancha, a tale about Don Quixote’s quest for a more beautiful world. I read a little bit of his story to my 5th graders asking them what they thought about the idea that music heals the soul, and laughter brings joy and hope. They liked it. They asked me about Dr. G and why today was a special day for him. One asked if it was his birthday. I thought about that for a moment and realized that today kind of is like his birthday. It’s the first day of his new life without cancer.

“So it’s like Dr. G 2.0? Like a new version of Dr. G?” one of my students asked.

“It’s exactly like Dr. G 2.0,” I replied. “An updated, better version. With no bugs.”

We talked a bit about change and newness and they all agreed that the best thing we could do for him was sing. So we sang. The only song we all knew the words to was “Happy Birthday.” I thought it was silly at first, but after reflecting on it, I realized it was the perfect song for us to sing. My students don’t know all the details, but they know I love him very much and that today is an important day in his life.

So, Happy Birthday 2.0 Dr. G, we’ll see you on the other side.

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