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May 2nd is what I call Syd’s birthday, the day after what seemed like years when I said to the sculptor, “This is it, this is Syd. We are done! I declare Syd’s birthday is May 2nd!”

But how was Syd born?

When I quit my corporate life, it was a very hard time. I lost the whole identity that came with being a career woman. At the same time, 2 of our 3 kids went off to college and I saw that I would soon be losing that role of “mother” in the way I knew it. And did I mention the M word, menopause? You didn’t want to be in the same room with me.

I kept trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I used my head really hard to figure it all out, but everything my mind offered left an empty feeling. So, I had to surrender. I had to find a way to be comfortable in that space where the past was over, but I didn’t know yet what the future would bring.

That was REALLY hard.

I started the days not really knowing what to do. I’d go about my tasks, plan dinner, clean out closets and start to notice what made me happy because I was feeling really lost and blue. To be honest, I was depressed.

It was during this time that I started loving some Laughing Monk statues. I would order a few and dress them up. It really sparked my creativity! I would send pictures to friends and they would dress up statues around their house and send me pictures. Maybe I didn’t know what the future held, but I was cracking myself up waiting to find out.

Then the idea came to make these statues so I could fit outfits on them more easily — but my statue would have a thumbs up. The original statues had become my cheerleaders, saying You can do it, it will be OK, you are not alone, we are here. I would walk into the kitchen in the morning depressed and see their smiling faces, like the day they had a mop on their head and sunglasses on. When I designed my own statue, it just made sense for them to have a thumbs up as if to say, “It is going to be okay. We have your back.”

First, I had the giant task of finding an artist to make a statue. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing but eventually found someone. Three artists later, Syd was born — with no name. I asked everyone to help me think of one. My girlfriend said, “How about Sid as in Siddhartha?”

I needed an androgynous name since I would dress the statue as a male and sometimes as female. I could spell “Sid” as “Syd” but I still didn’t like it.

When this new sculpture of Syd appeared, I asked the artist to share a name. Right away, he emailed and said, “Syd could be male or female and short for Siddhartha.” Again, I thought, no — especially since a most beautiful young woman named Sydney, who was a 19-year-old in our town, had been tragically killed in a car accident. She was so beautiful with big blue eyes, so creative and smart. She was an architecture student at Binghamton University, SUNY.

So, how could I possibly use the name Syd?

The sculptor kept calling the statue “Syd” and it started to take on a life of its own. It became Syd and there was no turning back.

The process to create the statue seemed like years. We went back and forth …”It is just not right yet, I am not sure why maybe the thumb, the expression in the face, the mouth….”

Finally that day came — and Syd was perfect.

OMG. I danced around, hugged the artist and declared, “This is Syd’s Birthday, May 2nd, 2012!” This would always be Syd’s birthday.

Well, the next day I went on the computer to see all this activity on the Facebook Group for Sydney Gross. What was all this? I looked and everyone wished her a happy birthday and sent messages that she must be among the angels. They missed and loved her. What? Her birthday was also May 2nd? How could this be?

What does this mean? Does it even mean something? I guess we are left to decide for ourselves.

Happy Birthday, Syd!

Live. Laugh. Syd!

What do serendipitous experiences mean to you? Do you think they are just coincidence? Or something deeper?

Please share. I could discuss these things all day.

#BigSyd #BigMagic

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Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Valerie says:

    Beautiful story about Sid! Serendipity is a wonderful thing!❤️ I finally know the story of Syd… It’s nice to know the story of this happy face I spend my day with. Thanks for sharing Ellen!

  • I believe that everything that comes into our lives is there to teach us something. Thank you SO much for sharing this! I am typing through tears. I am so happy to know Syd’s story. Incredible! Happy birthday, Syd! xoxo

  • Judy Graham says:

    I love Syd and am so delighted to learn we share May 2 birthdays (although unlike Syd, I now must scroll WAY down to get to my birth year!) I believe there are no coincidences and in the midst of this pandemic (I am in the epicenter of it all) I woke up feeling kinda blue – thinking I cannot get birthday hugs from my grandsons. But then I read my emails and discovered little Syd and I are celebrating together. Thanks Ellen for sharing so honestly. Our customers love these little statues and btw so do my 6 and 10 year old grandsons.

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