Skip to main content

Imagine all the people...celebrating more birthdays

It was days, really, between learning my friend was being sent home, cancer treatment suspended, and learning she had passed away. Sadly, the first symptom came well after the cancer had already metastasized and spread. They began intensive treatment, aggressive. It was hard on her, but she had a lot to live for: loving family, loving friends, and two beautiful children, as well as all of her work, including a book she authored for children about children on the autism spectrum. That was her: a do-er.

She was the sort of person you could picture growing older, still doing. I could even picture her forty years from now blowing out a cake full of candles. In my imagination, over her cake, her hair was still bright, as it was before she got sick. She’d do that, I knew, keep herself looking nice. She’d have a big smile, and she’d tell everyone they shouldn’t have made such a fuss, but everyone would ignore her because they knew she was deeply touched -- family and family times were everything. I wished that for her with all my heart.

When I got the message she was gone, I denied it. I didn’t believe it until I read her obituary in the paper. I left a comment on the online memorial. I spoke about what a fantastic person she was. I spoke about how heartbreaking a loss it was. I mentioned nothing of my anger.

The next day, I went for a run. My feet pounded the track in fury. The hot Texas summer sun pounded me back, just as brutal as my anger. I hate this, I thought, I hate this day. My children had been surly, uncooperative, and cranky. The day was intolerably hot and humid. The sun was relentless. I pulled myself along the straight stretch before a curve that took me along the water.

My iPod stumbled out of my pacing songs and Falling Slowly came on. I nearly clicked to the next song, but the lyrics caught and tugged at my grief. We’ve still got time…the song trilled. But my friend doesn’t, I thought, my friend hasn’t got more time. Why not? I knew how she’d feel about that, and that she’d be of two minds, and unapologetic. That’s how she was. She called it like it was. But she also called blessings for what they were too. I felt ashamed of my ingratitude: for having known her, for all the gifts I received from her, for the beautiful children she brought into the world and would not get to see grow up, for the fact that I had today, another day with my children even if they were cranky and I was grief-stricken and miserably hot.

I took the curve in the track a little slowly and I thought hard about her. She’d have loved this hot day. She’d have loved to be healthy and bickering with her children about getting ready for day camp. She would have loved having this day, I knew. And I wanted to give it to her, a late or early birthday gift, depending upon how you looked at it.

Here it is, I thought with my mind and heart, here is this day, another day, one you would have liked, one that was hot, one that was about being a mom, one that was about making a healthy choice.

I sent the experience of the day up and out, and away to her. And a little bit of grief fell away from my heart. She may not have another birthday, but I do. She may not get to celebrate another birthday with her kids, but I can. And I can send the appreciation and joy from that to her.

My friend, and all the other friends, mothers, sisters, daughters, brothers, fathers, husbands, wives – all the other people who have gone, or are still here fighting, or stand beside someone fighting cancer – are why I joined the American Cancer Society’s More Birthdays effort. I can take a page from my friend’s book and be a do-er. I can celebrate and recognize that every birthday is a blessing.

***********************************************************************************
I am a member of the American Cancer Society's Blogger Advisory Council, a small group of volunteers that advises the Society on its social media strategy. Part of our mission is to spread the word that we have power in the fight against cancer. The first step is to build awareness and engage women. Visibility equals power! So we have started a blog "chain" to spread the word among women bloggers. We call it Bloggers for More Birthdays.

You can help me!

Join Bloggers for More Birthdays by dedicating a blog post to someone you love who's been affected by cancer. Host the badge on your site to build visibility. It's a simple way to celebrate those you love. Just write a post, host our badge, and know that whatever you write, you’re raising awareness and inspiring others to join American Cancer Society in the fight against cancer.

And please, host the special Bloggers for More Birthdays badge on your blog to encourage others to join. Just visit our site for the code to grab a badge, and sample posts.

We want to spread the word, so we ask you to get others in your networks involved by sending them your posts and asking them to dedicate a post of their own. If you don't have your own space online, email a post to bloggersubmit@officialbirthdayblog.com and we'll post it for you.

You can tweet about the chain as well, please use #morebirthdays:

Examples:

dedicate a blog post to someone you love with cancer and tell their story join http://bit.ly/13kS6L for #morebirthdays

blog against cancer: join http://officialbirthdayblog.com/category/bloggers/ for #morebirthdays

Blog for #morebirthdays, less cancer join http://officialbirthdayblog.com/category/bloggers/

Happy Birthday.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Julie, this brought to mind so much of what I have thought and felt in the past two years since my friend died. I'm in.

I'm sorry about Gina, and I think that dedicating some of the joy you find in your life to her is a beautiful way of adding to her life.

Popular posts from this blog

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Quorum

After being confronted with written evidence, Julie admits that she is a total attention whore. In some things, in some ways, sometimes I look outward for validation of my worth and existence. I admit it. It's my weak spot, my vanity spot . If you say I am clever, comment on a post, offer me an award, mention me on your blog, reply to a comment I left on your blog, or in any way flatter me as a writer...I am hopelessly, slavishly devoted to you. I will probably even add you to my blogroll just so everyone can see the list of all the cool kids who actually like me . The girl, she knows she is vain in this regard , but after much vanity discussion and navel-gazing , she has decided to love herself anyway, as she is (ironically) and will keep searching for (1) internal validation and (2) her first person . Until I reach a better point of self-actualization, though, may I just say that this week you people have been better than prozac and chocolate (together, with a side of whi

In defense of vanity...I think

Do you have one of those issues where you argue with yourself? Where you just aren't sure what you actually think because there are so many messages and opinions on the topic around you? I have more than one like this. However, there is one topic that has been struggling to the top of my mind recently: vanity and perceived vanity. Can vanity be a good thing? Vanity has historically been truly reviled. Vanity is number seven of the Seven Deadly Sins. It's the doppleganger of number seven on the Seven Holy Virtues list: humility. There are many moralistic tales of how vanity makes you evil and brings about a spectacular downfall. Consider the lady who bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth. Google Borgia+vanity and find plenty. The Brothers Grimm and Disney got in on the act too. The Disney message seems to be: the truly beautiful don't need to be vain. They are just naturally eye-catchingly gorgeous. And they are all gorgeous. Show me the Reubenesque Pr

Is your name yours? How your name affects your success...

Made by Andrea Micheloni Not too long ago I read What's in a name? by Veronica Mitchell. She'd read the NPR/USA Today article, Blame it on your name , that shared new research results: "a preference for our own names and initials — the 'name-letter effect' — can have some negative consequences." Veronica's post and that article got me thinking about names, and their importance. Changing to my husband’s name and shedding my maiden name was no love lost for me. By the time we married, I’d have gladly married any other name just for a change. My maiden name was a trial; I was sick of spelling it, pronouncing it, explaining it, and dealing with the thoughtless rude comments about it. My sister and I dreamed and planned for the day we could shed that name. So I wonder, sometimes, whether I adequately considered what a name change would actually mean. Heritage and genealogy matter to me and my maiden name reflected a great deal of familial history. Histo