If you don’t know the next line of that lyrical masterpiece, it is, “gonna sip Bacardi like it’s your birthday.” I remember my sister being in the shower singing while my Mom and I were laying in her bed talking. I was laughing at Molly’s singing, until I saw Mom’s face. Clearly, I hadn’t been listening to wholesome music in the car while my precious baby sister rode shotgun. (Well, in the backseat, I like safety and rap music.)
This morning, I awoke with that memory in my head. My sister often said it to me on my birthday. It was especially poignant as she was officially taller than me when she hit the double digits. I never really started drinking coffee because I learned on the acclaimed film, Clueless, that it would stunt my growth. I guess it’s time for me to give up and give in to radiation and genetics.
I have amazing friends who have made me feel special all day today and even last night. I have precious students who literally searched their homes for anything they could give me. I have fabulous co-workers who let me have the easy job of showing a movie during our Christmas party rotations. I even have the cutest dog in the world who is so sweet that the people who work at her doggie day care send me sweet pictures of her bonding with new dogs! I have parents who send me cookies and texts and love all day long even though we are 200+ miles apart. I am lucky, for I have been given much more than many. I’ve survived much longer than so many of my cancer peers, and I am thankful. I am thankful for much, but there’s still a little/big piece of me that wonders if every special day will be tainted with the internal ache for my baby girl.
The last time I got to spend my birthday with her was weird. My nuclear family and pregnant sister-in-law snuck away from the hospital for a quiet dinner. We laughed and talked about sweet Baby Wilkes coming. I remember Molly asking the SIL weird questions. “What does it feel like when he moves?” “Do you have heartburn?” Those were questions that seemed so foreign to my 29 year-old self because the thought of being pregnant and having a baby grossed me out.
I awoke on the 19th to Mom and Molly crying in the kitchen. I asked what had happened. Mom said, “Daddy and I thought Molly might be pregnant.” I laughed and said, “No, she and I already talked about it at Thanksgiving. You should’ve asked me!” My Dad had even stayed up all night trying to think of how to ask her. He checked under her bathroom counter and all signs pointed to her not being pregnant. We got busy again with my Grqndddaddy…
I was at the CVS across from Piedmont a few nights later on a night I was spending with him in the hospital. Among the noise of the Christmas music, my phone rang. My apologies to Bing Crosby, my scream when her voice on the other end of the line telling me she’d gotten her acceptance to Auburn certainly drowned you out and I’m sure it wasn’t in tune. I just knew things were starting to turn around for her. She would soon be out of the fishbowl town and would find herself in that lovely village as I had done a decade before,, Oh how I wish we’d pressed her more…. I wish we’d made her take a pregnancy test… I wish we’d been more radical about our conversations. If we had, perhaps she and the twins would be here helping me pack to go home for the holidays…she was certainly more efficient. Perhaps we’d go gorge at the Melting Pot…. But she sure would’ve said, “Go shorty….”
Keep ROCK-in your family this Christmas. Don’t let the hustle of the season distract you from those you love the most. Love each of your family members like it might be their last…..
More than meat loves salt,