Forty-three years ago today, three days past my father's forty-third birthday, his son was born. I was born forty-three years ago today.
(As birthday gifts go, that must have been something.)
It is not unusual for men to measure ourselves by our fathers. Today I am the same age my father was when I was born. What can I learn through my imagination of what he felt, who he was that day?
Like my father, I stand at the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Like my father, it's clear what a key feature will be. On that day forty-three years ago, my father certainly knew that this helpless little creature would be a central, defining part of his life forever onward.
For me, today is marked not a presence but an absence. Something that was a central part of my life for many many years will soon be no more. Where I lose clarity is in that absence, in the void of what was there. How do I navigate when the major feature in my life is not what is there, but what is not?
Like my father forty-three years ago today, what I was is no more. For him, there was an eight-pound-whatever-ounce baby that told him, "Count this among the things that define you. You are now the father of an infant son."
I see no such defining feature, only the negative space where what once was no longer is. What will fill that space? Who will I be?