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Aging and Birthdays and Cancer

Posted 8/11/2013

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  No, we are no where near the month of my birthday, but today's entry is stimulated by another wonderful blog by Lisa Bonckek Adams: A flash of red (happy birthday to me). I will say a bit more about it and give you a link further on, but reading it has stimulated my own thoughts. Last night we attended my nephew's wedding at the New England Aquarium. It was a gorgeous setting for a wedding on a beautiful, perfect summer evening. One could stay outside and admire the Boston skyline over the harbor, planes coming and going from Logan, the stars...or go inside to watch the penguins. This wedding marked the final marriage of the nieces, nephews, and daughters. That is to say, that entire generation of my family is now coupled. That seems as large a marker of time as a birthday!

  I often think and sometimes say that a cancer diagnosis pretty much eliminates any issues we have with aging. When I was first diagnosed at 44 (which turns out to be the age that Ms Adams has just achieved), I never thought I would live to be 50. Indeed, for my 50th birthday, we had a marvelous dinner for my most beloved family and friends. Instead of place cards, I wrote notes to each, laying the envelope on the table to mark the spot. The notes were my thanks and love and a chance to express both to each person.

  It is even more astonishing to have subsequently celebrated a 60th birthday. Of course, like every woman, I liked my body and reflection in the mirror a whole lot better when I was 30 or even 40, but I will joyfully and gratefully take every wrinkle and sag and gray hair and softening and be down on my knees thankful. to be alive.

  Here is thestart and then a link to her most poignant essay, making me even more aware of my own good fortune:

A flash of red amidst the green summer grass:

a lone leaf, blazing in autumn clothing, a vivid premature announcement of a change of season.

Perfectly waxy, thick and juicy, it could not have been there long.

It is, I realize, the color of my mother’s lipstick. The color she has worn every day of my life. Perfectly fitting for the moment…

I turn 44 today.
I do not know how I feel about this fact.

The day I turned 43 was a lifetime ago, surely not just one year. I did not know I had metastatic breast cancer then. I was ignorant and blissful.

I had no idea what my life would be when I reached this birthday.




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