My cousin, David, and I are twins. Kinda. His birthday is July 8, 1968 and mine is July 9, 1968. He was born close to midnight and I was born right after midnight. However, you might be surprised to learn that I am technically older than he is because I was born at 12:24 am in Fayetteville, NC and he was born at 11-something-ish pm somewhere in Montana. The two hour time difference between Eastern and Mountain time zones makes me a wee bit older than David. I’ve always been fascinated by this fact and have to admit it was something that we would often debate whenever we would get together. When we were kids our argument might have sounded something like this:
David: I’m older.
Sarah: No, I’m older.
David: But my birthday is a day earlier than yours.
Sarah: But I was actually born first.
And so the fight continued….
Now that I’m nearing my mid-40’s, I’m completely fine with David being older than me. I’ll be younger! No problem.
In addition to my cousin being born on July 8th, my grandfather and brother were also born on the same date. Different years, of course. I’m the odd man out with my birthday on the 9th but I don’t mind because I kinda like having the day all to myself. I don’t like to share. 😛 Call me spoiled.
Yes, the second week of July was always a cause for celebration.
However, two years ago, the date of July 8th took on a whole different meaning. It was no longer just a day of multiple celebrations. It became something much more sinister.
It brought news that shattered our world. We learned on July 8th, 2009, that my beautiful son had a suspicious mass growing behind his heart.
We were four years past Ben’s last chemotherapy. We were getting ready to celebrate Ben moving to annual scans. He was going to be eligible to be a part of the “Hope Clinic” within one more year. Being a part of the Hope Clinic meant that he had five years of being cancer-free under his belt. Cancer made sure he didn’t get that chance.
On July 9th, 2009 – my birthday – Ben had emergency surgery to biopsy the mass that had invaded his body. We learned on July 13 that it was, indeed, recurrent Neuroblastoma.
It feels like it was a million years ago but, then again, it feels just like yesterday. I don’t know where the time has gone. Here I am getting ready to celebrate yet another birthday and I’m just not quite sure when it was that I got to be middle aged. Just yesterday I was turning 10 and going to see “Grease” with my best girlfreinds. Now I have a 10-year-old of my own who has battled – and slayed – the dragon named Neuroblastoma. Twice.
I want this date to go back to being a reminder of birthdays. Of LIFE. And I love the idea of going back to a simpler time when I argued with David as to who was older. If only my “problems” could be as innocent now as they were then.
And, oh, how I wish Ben’s “problems” had the opportunity to be anything other than life-threatening. He’s been robbed of the opportunity to be caught up in the ridiculous joy of childhood. He doesn’t get to worry about the trivial. He’s challenged on a level that many people will never understand. A level that I don’t necessarily understand how to parent. But I’m trying.
Tomorrow, it’s a fact that I’ll be another year older. Wiser? Probably. Tired? Most definitely. In awe of my incredible son? Absolutely. Ready to continue helping Ben in his fight?
Without a doubt.