Almost all of us remember our birthdays, some us at a certain age forget when they are, some of us at a certain age want to forget when they are, some of us because of a certain kind of forgetfulness, forget when they are, but most of us…remember our birthdays, and we like it when other people remember them…most of us like that. We remember other days too…those days are different for every one of us, although we share some commonness about what days we think are worth remembering. For me, I remember the day I got married and the days my daughters were born. I remember the day I learned how to ride a bicycle by myself, and the day my parents gave me my own bicycle-it was big, with big white rimmed tires, and sparkly magenta trim. I loved that bicycle. It took me everywhere my 11 year old feet couldn’t take me…yes, I learned to ride late…this made me all the more glad to learn how to ride. I remember my first day at college, and my last. I remember the day I bought my first car-it was a red Datsun, it was a stick shift and I had no idea how to drive a stick shift, but it was cheaper than an automatic, so I taught myself. I remember the day my husband and I moved into our first house…I remember every day we moved, although I wish I could forget a few of them. I also remember some strange things, like the first time I saw a wild owl when I was living in California, or just recently right in my own backyard I saw a hummingbird for the first time.
There are the other days we remember that we wish we could forget, but we remember them. I remember where I was when my grandfather died, and how it was to go to his house after he died. I remember the day my parents and I went to visit my 18-year old dog at the vet to say our final goodbye to him after he died-he was the dog who was always in the house, the dog that I grew up with; I couldn’t imagine the house without him. I remember the Day President Kennedy was killed (I was very young, but I remember it); I remember every little bit about the day that 9/11 happened. I remember the day my apartment blew up from a steam pipe explosion in New York City…no more apartment-but at least my husband, my four month-old daughter, and I weren’t in it when it happened. I remember the day I was told I had a “lesion”. I have a what? This was the beginning of quite a few days I remember, quite a few days I wish I could forget, and quite a few days due to a bit of brain injury that I seem not to be able to recall. Thank you! I remember the day we dropped my first daughter off at college and said goodbye, and she and I both knew when I left, that she wasn’t just going to be around the corner. I remember the day I was told that my tumor had doubled in size since my first surgery 17 years ago, and I needed a second surgery. Are you kidding me?
I remember the day I finished radiation treatment the second time. Yayyy!!!! I remember those amazing days that I worked on jobs until all hours of the night, with film crews that felt like family. Even though the days were long, it almost didn’t feel like work. I remember the day I reached the sign that said “You Are Now Entering Boston” after I walked almost 250 miles on my way to Mass General Hospital to raise awareness for Brain Tumors…I actually walked to that sign. That was an amazing day, and I hadn’t even reached my final destination yet. I remember that I’m lucky that I’m still here today. I also remember that when I finished Proton Radiation in 2008, as glad as I was, and as celebratory a day as it was, my husband and I were just needing to move on forward. We needed to get back in our car and drive home, because in a couple more weeks we were going to be driving our daughter back up to school for 9 hours to Buffalo. When we returned we needed to put our house on the market because I wasn’t going to be working for a while, and overall the economy was starting not to do as well. I remember that while we were happy that one chapter of our life was over-a whole new chapter was beginning.
I remember feeling sad that I never had a real celebration. My husband and I did go to dinner to celebrate my birthday several weeks after I completed radiation…a few weeks after we dropped my daughter off at college, and we toasted the fact that I had made it through to the other side, but I always wished for more of a celebration. You just don’t know when you’re going to get these opportunities-you have to take advantage of them when they come along. This Sunday, on May 6th at the Race for Hope, all Survivors were given a yellow balloon and a yellow survivor T-shirt, and we were all lead to the head of the walking line of the over 12,000 people that were there for the occasion. All 300 plus yellow of us, walked together to the song Heroes, sung by David Cook-the balloons were attached to us, some of us walked, some of us were in wheel chairs being pushed by others, but we were still there. The supporters cheered everyone on from the sidelines. When the song ended those of us at the front of the line and those supporting us on the sidelines all walked or ran the 5K Race for the support and awareness of this extremely important cause. This was one of the most emotional days I’ve ever had. It was the celebration I hadn’t had, and for me it was amazing. This day I’ll always remember!