I want to start with two thoughts. One, happy birthday, Ammi! Two, I'm sorry I can't be there to celebrate with you.

Seeing as how I am more than 9,500 miles away from you on this birthday, I cannot help but think about your last one when those miles were surmountable. When I was able to wish you in person very close to the day of your actual birthday. And the year before that. And the year before that. In fact, every year I've been alive, I think I have spent your birthday with you. Until this year. And it got me thinking about time. I thought how strange it is that since the two of us have been separated by borders, I have kept track of time differently. Normally, I would count down to various events -- birthdays, graduations, holidays. I would cross days off in a calendar. But since I saw you last May, I no longer cross off. I no longer count down.

I count up.

It has been 358 days since I last saw you in person. It will likely be as many and more before I see you again. When the sun rises tomorrow, the number will go up. And I will keep counting. I don't think this is unique to me. I've heard it before -- when I visit people in detention, they have often told me exactly how many days they have been in lock up. I don't mean to compare experiences. Just that sometimes distance and time may feel the same. They don't know when they will get out. But they know how long it has been since they last saw their family. They count up in days, weeks, months, and years. I suppose then there is count down time and count up time. Count down for those who know when. Count up for those who do not.

But for now, a virtual hug from me with a phone call.

Someday soon, in time, a real hug.

Happy Birthday, Ammi.

I love you.