Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

Today is my dad's sixtieth birthday.  He shouldn't be alive to celebrate it.

It's been nine years and eleven months since that phone call, the one where I realized that phone calls could change the course of your life.   That phone call wouldn't be the first one.

"I have cancer," he said.  I was eighteen, had just finished my finals, was planning a summer job in the Southwest corner of Virginia, nearly two thousand miles from my dad in Boise.

It was that moment, though, that exposed my strength, picked me up off the floor, and sent me straight to the internet, before the internet, was, well, what it is.  There were few online support groups.  The web pages were low-quality templates with clipart(!).  There was no Facebook, only an away message on AIM to communicate my change in plans.

That was the summer I expanded my vocabulary, opened up a new file in my brain and placed words like "Rituxan" and "follicular b-cell" and "non-Hodgkin's."  I argued with the oncologists over treatment protocols and effectiveness and response rate.  I thought about med school.

They told my dad he would be lucky to live five years.  It's been ten.  In a world where it seemed impossible he'd ever make it out of his fifties, today he does.  Cancer complicates birthdays, makes each one not just the passage of another year, but truly a recognition of our ability as people to overcome disease and reclaim our lives.  You are not another year older, another day closer to death.  You are one day further from it.  Today is my dad's birthday.  It's a cause for celebration.

It's a bummer actually because the photo I wanted to use,
of us spraying his hair, was lost in the fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment