I woke up this morning and stumbled out of my bed…I know you will get the reference…and realized that this is the first time in almost ten years that I actually get to spend your birthday with you. Man, you have had some crazy birthdays – remember that time I crashed my brand new car on your birthday? Or the time your boss had a heart-attack on your birthday? I mean, come on! And now you are spending your birthday, thousands of miles away from home and Dad because I have cancer. That’s it, universe. I am determined that from this point forward every birthday of yours is going to be the best day ever!
In all seriousness, the silver lining in this is that I got to wake up this morning and hug my mommy on her birthday. I got to eat breakfast with my mommy on her birthday. I got to see my mommy wear her birthday earrings from Colombia on her birthday. This year it wasn’t just a phone call and Facebook post. I get to give flesh and blood love to you on your birthday.
But the real gift I can actually give you right now is a thank you. I know, I’m your daughter. “Of course, I will get on a plane and be here for you during all of this.” But the reality is once I saw you walk through that airport door, my shoulders physically sank away from my ears with relief. My mommy is here and it’s going to be okay. Because that is what you do. You kiss it and make it better. You sing and sing and sing until the little ant can move the rubber tree plant. You push and push and push until justice is served to the little turd who kicked your daughter’s basketball shoes down the hall. You rub and rub and rub until all of the worries about being good enough are lifted from your daughter’s back and the tears are gone from her eyes. And you clean and clean and clean until germs would not dare enter your daughter’s home to get her sick on top of being sick.
I know you are just as scared as I am. On top of it all, you are quite literally reliving all of the faux pas I lived my first few months here – self check out at the grocery store, realizing carrying 40 pounds of shit four blocks is nearly impossible, understanding what 100 pesos means in dollars, having to use google translate to figure out when the grease man comes, figuring out what a grease man is! You have to watch wide-eyed as nurses explain how to care for your daughter in a language you don’t speak, hoping your daughter has learned enough to translate it all correctly to you. Oh, and to top it all off, you have to gently battle your 31-year-old independent daughter who thinks she is superwoman and can push herself to the maximum because she didn’t have a reaction to her first chemo. Good luck!
So again, I thank you. And I pre-apologize for every time I am going to snap. I pre-request that you be patient with me as I start to move into the “can’t” stage. I pre-accept the power of your undying faith. And I pre-love every moment of Susie-Sunshine positivity you give me when I start to spiral into the black-hole. Because that little ant may have high hopes, but I have my mommy. So go ahead, Cancer Phil, and push me around, my mommy is the biggest, baddest, most positive person in town…who survived Syracuse winters, and single motherhood, and a teenage daughter, and a teenage son, and sales children, and losing her sister, and losing her parents, and….the list goes on. (hands on hips and stick out tongue) so there!
Happy Birthday, Mom. I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.