For the last three years, as my birthday fast approaches, it is not excitement that I feel. It is not anticipation for another year older, it is not dread for another year older either. It is heartache, and sadness because I know on that day, there is one phone call I’m not going to get. There is one person that will not be wishing me a happy birthday, and really, it’s the only wish that I want.
I lost my Dad three years ago. He fought a three year battle with cancer that eventually won when he was 57. Some might think that around the holidays would be hard, or the anniversary of his passing, or even on his birthday. But for me, it’s not any of those days. I think about him more on those days, but the hardest time for me is my birthday. He was always the first one to call me every year. Early in the morning on his way to work he would sing in an over dramatized voice and when he was done he would say, “Happy Birthday, Kid,” and I would laugh and he would laugh and then we’d just talk about whatever. It makes my heart hurt that I don’t get that phone call anymore.
I think about my dad at some point each day and wonder what he makes of his new life. I also wonder what he thinks of mine, now that he has a better seat. I wonder what he thinks of my girls — being a grandfather was all he could talk about after we told him I was pregnant with E – who is now five. He daydreamed of walking, hand in hand with a little girl in a dress, showing her the world and all the great things she would be able to do in it. I am proud to say, that once he was able to do that. I still call his cell phone every once in a while (thank you, Mom for not turning it off), just so I can hear his voice, even if it’s telling me to leave a message…
1.6 million people will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year and almost 600,000 of them will die. I am not here to talk statistics. The numbers are staggering and frankly damn scary. Most of us have lost someone to cancer, know someone who lost someone, know someone who went through the treatments or have felt some affect of this horrid disease. It hurts. It hurts the sick ones and the survivors and just the word, cancer, makes my stomach and heart ache. Watching my dad, the most caring father, the strongest, larger than life man succumb to the ravages of cancer, was devastating. The last few months of his life felt like three years alone. I thank God every day that he is no longer suffering but wish for so much more time with him. No matter how long we have those we love, it’s never enough. Even when you know the end is near, you are never fully prepared for that moment of loss. I wish my girls would have had more time with him. I wish he would be here for my baby brother’s wedding this spring.
When he was diagnosed the second time, our family motto became “f*ck cancer!” But as many of you may know, the second time is never good, because by then the body is tired, making another battle so much harder. I was pregnant with H when the results came back positive and it felt like hope was more difficult to reach. Cancer sucks — in every aspect of the word. It sucks life, hope, cheer. But it also teaches us not to take things for granted. To love harder, appreciate more and complain less.
So what’s the point? “What is she trying to say with this sad post and why is she telling us this”, you may be asking. Well, the point is whatever you want to take from it. I was having a rough day thinking about my dad and my birthday coming up and I started writing and this is what came out. I ate a huge piece of Valentines cake yesterday (and today – eek!), kissed my girls good-bye as I dropped them at school and went about my day. Because life goes on without the ones we’ve lost and with time, it gets easier. I cry a little less, smile and remember the good times more often and think about the words to one of my favorite Pearl Jam songs…”I am myself, like you somehow.”
Thanks for “listening”…:)