Today’s my birthday and I feel overwhelmed… by love. From the flowers and candies to the immense amounts of outpourings of support and love, I’ve got few words. I am simply in awe of the kindness bestowed upon me. And I made it! I really had no idea what life would be like by this point, would I be able to speak? Would I be trapped in bed? Would I be able to hear you say happy birthday? Would I be here at all? It was scary, and while it’s not over and I struggle each day to understand what normal means and will be like, I’m grateful. I managed to have lunch with a dear friend and I even got to go out, get a birthday dress and wear it!
And yes, it is only 4:50 pm and I am in bed tuckered out but I’m here. I made it.
I made it.
Oh my God, I really made it.
Never in my life did I fathom I would face brain surgery and make it. 27. I’m 27, I still look 12 (bodes well for the future!) and I made it. I’m in awe. Of science, of myself, of my friends, of my family, of you. All of you, near and far who are propelling me forward. What’s more? I can smile an only very slightly asymmetrical smile at you when you share that love with me. I can smile and I can pay it forward. So I can’t hear you. Speak into my good ear and as I get older I’m pretty sure the quirk of having a decorative ear will make me adorable. As my sister says, someday I’ll be “crazy aunt Sami” to her kids and they will always laugh and joke about how I can’t hear. It’s endearing or something. It’s at least something. Again, I’m going to deny it exists for the next little while.
I knew when I got in the MRI machine back in August something was amiss. I knew it, which is why that day was so beautiful. My parents and I got to spend an afternoon avoiding it and having fun, frivolously distracting ourselves in blissful ignorance. But lying in there, loud banging noises clouding my thought, the machine closing in on me, I knew. I felt the betrayal of my body in every fiber of my being. I felt the revolt inside me and I was simultaneously disgusted and angry and I remember begging my body in my mind not to let it be cancer. I was too much of a coward for cancer. And I got lucky, it wasn’t cancer. While Herbert was far from good news, it was a blessing. Perhaps less straightforward than I had hoped but I can navigate this (at least most days). People keep telling me I’m brave and calling me an inspiration. I’m flattered, and honored really. I didn’t have much of a choice really. Bravery has always been my life’s goal. In fact every year except this one my resolution in the new year is to be brave, to face life head on, no giving up. This year, I was too tired for a resolution, I was simply happy to be here. I have faced something huge and scary, and I suppose it’s brave of me, but really there was no other way. And let’s keep in mind, I sobbed like a baby in a dark room to my mother at 4 am the morning of surgery, muttering only the words, “I don’t want to do this” and I did try to make a naked break for it. I was forced to be brave. I think any of you would have faced this with the same resolve I had. The only difference? I think I’m trying to turn this tragic, challenging chapter of life into my life’s biggest comedy. I have little choice but to smile about it. I mean if I wanted to let the weight of it in, well let’s be honest, it would be sobfest 2013. I could sell tickets and people could canoe on a river of tears. But why? To what end? It’s not going to change anything. My body betrayed me but it’s the only one I’ve got and I can’t pay it forward or even pay it back in this life without this body. So today, for my birthday, I’m giving myself the gift of forgiveness. Forgiving my body for its betrayal and instead being thankful to it for pulling me through. For fighting with me, alongside me. Instead of wasting energy nursing pain, I’m going to acknowledge the pain but be present in the moment, with all of you. I can be here, in this life, with you now. And that is a truly beautiful thing.
Thanks for all the love. I hope I can give as much and more than I have received.
Peace and love-