At 50

I ought not be here.

As I contemplate 50, the first birthday I will celebrate without a living parent, the same thought recurs that has struck me on most birthdays of my adult life, but maybe with a little extra poignancy.

I ought not be here.

I can’t speak for others, but for me, being born from an unwanted pregnancy before Roe v Wade has meant living with the feeling that, had I been conceived a few years later, I would almost surely have not made it to Day 1. So Year 50 is something.

I spent the first 2/3 of my life thinking I must have been born for a reason, that I needed to live up to the opportunity of my nativity. It was a lot of pressure and I don’t think it served me well. I tried to compensate for all those whose parents made other choices. It was too much.

The last third of my life, I accepted that nothing I could do would justify my escape from the womb, and I learned that the best form of gratitude I could offer was to enjoy the day I had been given. It has certainly made it easier not to get worked up about piddly things, having a constant reminder that I shouldn’t be here at all, anyway.

For the most part, I have left the pro-life fights for others. I love too many people on both sides of that divide, and there seems so little interest in mutual understanding and compassion there.

But I will offer this much. I hope most of the people who have gotten to know me would say it was a good thing I was born, that their lives might have been a little diminished for not knowing me, had I not made it out to them. And I would suggest that we have missed the chance to meet many who would have been way more awesome than I’ll ever be had they been given the chance.

I will admit to this vanity: if someone once said That this guy is here makes me wish we made it easier for people to choose life, that would be something.

If I haven’t reached that threshold yet, well, there’s hope in the next 50. And regardless, I am grateful for today.

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