Saturday was my birthday. Though throughout that day I celebrated 39 years of life, this whole month has been a celebration to me. I am a two-year cancer survivor.
It felt more tragic at the time to be diagnosed with cancer so close to my birthday. I remember October 2007 as a month of flowers and greeting cards. There were piles and piles of Get Well AND birthday cards, and my house looked like a florist shop with bouquets and baskets of roses, hydrangeas, and mums: some celebrating the life I’ve had, some wishing me more life.
Last year, I morphed my cancer anniversary and 38th birthday into a celebration of life: my own, as well as those of the people who helped me through a year of illness. It felt important to do it big last year, to rejoice with lots of people over what God had done in our lives together because of cancer.
This year, there were no parties, only a few quiet meals with friends and family, a handful of cards and calls, just a couple of flower arrangements. And that felt exactly right for now. Cancer is still part of my everyday life (at least in my thoughts), but it’s not all my life is about. I have taken this month to reflect and be thankful. Jesus has also given me some more dreams back, and I continue to imagine a future again. A future BEFORE heaven, that is.
My future life IN heaven continues to be the greatest gift, however. And I pray that this coming year finds me more and more in love with Jesus.
A few days before my birthday, I was at my friend Kelly’s house for dinner. When I arrived, her two sons popped out of their bedroom with a gift and shouts of “surprise”! After dinner, we had chocolate cheesecake in honor of my special day; I got to blow out the candle AND have the first bite, though my four-year-old and six-year-old buddies could hardly resist the dessert on their plates.
Later, I even got to pick which Wii game to play, and Jensen insists that my victory in boxing (his specialty) was a gift as well. (Even if I DID when fair and square, I’m not sure I should brag about beating a four-year-old in boxing!)
The whole evening was special and fun, but one bit I will carry with me for a while. The gift I opened was Alex’s idea. When Kelly asked the boys what they should get me, he immediately said, “I think we should get her a dress.” And with no other thoughts prevailing, that’s what I got.
The dress itself was certainly nice; I wore it on Sunday to church. But the whole time I was wearing it, the greater gift was that a six-year-old would look at my life and see reason enough to celebrate with a new dress. A perspective I can learn a lot from, especially on the days when the memory of cancer seems a little too close.
Speaking of the memory of cancer, I will have my three-month blood tests in early November. If you think of it, will you pray that I would walk closely with the Lord as I anticipate both the test and the results?