At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I must admit that over the last few weeks, I have welled up with tears every time I've even so much as had a fleeting thought about my birthday. I didn't know why I was so overwhelmed with emotion at the thought of it, probably because I never stopped to actually figure it out. Until today.
Basking in the balmy 38-degree air en route to the train station after work, I realized something about why my birthday once again has caused me so much mixed emotion:
In the five weeks after my diagnosis and before the surgery that would reveal if and how far my cancer had spread, I thought a lot about the years I had (or didn't have) ahead of me. I thought about turning 33. I assumed that would happen, even though I knew that triple positive breast cancer is very aggressive. I thought about 34, and to be honest, I figured I would reach that milestone too. Even if it's spread all over, I reasoned, intensive treatment could give me a year-and-a-half more.
Then there was 35. Thirty-five was the big one -- the one that I really wondered if I could reach. I had no scientific understanding behind any of it but 35 was the first birthday that I really felt I needed to hope for. So I hoped for it. And now it's here -- March 10, 2015. It feels like a massive accomplishment at the same time that it feels like something that barely deserves a blog post. It feels glorious and terrifying, and fun and torturous, all at once.
My book, Hope Is a Good Breakfast, opens Part Seven (which is titled, "Birthdays") with the following quote from the one-and-only Bruce Springsteen:
"The older you get, the more it means."
I whole-heartedly agree with the Boss on this point (and so many others), but let me be clear -- that one additional year from 34 to 35 may just be another 365 days, but to me, it feels like a lifetime more of meaning.