Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 1,530: KatyDid 39

Five birthdays.

I've had five birthdays since finding out I had an aggressive form of cancer.

I've had two birthdays since finding out I had cancer...again.

A year ago, I was recovering from the chemotherapy I received the day before my birthday. I had had less than a month to get used to my mastectomy.

Four years ago, I was at the tail end of AC chemo and I was skinny and tired and working full time and throwing a big party.

Twenty-nine years ago, I was born again into my tenth year, an age I couldn't have foreseen in October the year before, when I learned that death was real and walking was not always possible.

Eleven years ago, I spent my birthday in Maine with my boyfriend of four months, and I didn't know then that he already knew that he wanted to marry me.

Eighteen years ago, I went out to dinner with my boyfriend of more than three years, and I didn't even order a drink, though my mother gave me wine glasses as a present, and I still use those glasses today.

Eight years ago, I spent my first birthday as a mother.

Five years ago, I spent my first birthday as a mother of two.

Sixteen years ago, I woke up in my apartment that I lived in by myself and paid for by having two jobs, including one that led me to lie on a cold basement floor with a blow torch trying to fix an industrial boiler, and I loved it, every moment of my solitude and the things and the moments that were mine alone.

Twenty-three years ago, I got my driver's license; my best friend threw me an amazing party, complete with dozens of pictures that kids drew of me, two dozen roses, my first opportunity to spend the night with a boy, and the whole thing was a complete surprise; and I was allowed to spend the day alone with my boyfriend at his parents' cottage in Michigan (??).

I suppose I could have done things differently. I suppose things could have gone differently. But I didn't, and they didn't. While I would trade cancer away any day of the week, I wouldn't trade the rest of it, and now cancer is a part of it too. I've had many more birthdays than many people. I am now at an age that people pretend to be as they move further into the 40s that I've been dreaming of since 34. There are so many people who have accomplished so many more important things than what small things I have done, and they have done them in less time and with many more challenges.

Six years ago was the last birthday I would have without having written any of this.

And this, this writing, is the one thing I have always done, without feeling like I should be doing something else, without worrying about whether I'm any good at it, without caring if anyone read it, without it seeming like work. I've had 39 years of stories to tell and a way to tell them. I hope to have many more, but I know I might not. These years are something that for all intents and purposes should never have come to pass, not considering everything else that's happened.

So just wait until KatyDid 40.

It doesn't seem so impossible now.


  1. I am so glad to listen to you and your stories. Anytime. Anywhere. That said, Longwood Lounge is the best place, so far. Long may it and you be the source of Stories.

    1. On that note, I think I will take that rum with me up north.

  2. Great post, great reflections on past birthdays, and here's to great reflections on umpteen more birthdays to come! Keep writing.