It Was My Re-Birthday and I Forgot All About It

It’s hard to always know exactly what makes you want to call or email a certain friend or family member on any given day. Is it something that reminds you of them? Or something funny or sad that you want to tell them? Or maybe you just want to hear the sound of their voice or reach out to them through the ethernet.

On January 30th, I had no idea why I called both my sister and my friend Margaret. I just felt like talking to each of them. Later I thought about it more and wondered if in some way the universe had drawn me to them. That’s because it was my 12th re-birthday, and they had both been by my side through my blood cancer treatment.

I had actually totally forgotten, but that didn’t change the fact that it was an important day.

It was my re-birthday!

I was caught off guard when at the end of the day, my son texted, “Happy birthday!” Then I checked my email and saw that Denise, my donor, had written her annual “Happy re-birthday” email. At first, when I saw my son’s text, I wasn’t even sure what he was talking about. Then I put two and two together and saw that he was talking about ME. I was embarrassed and concerned that I had maybe hurt Denise’s feelings. Then I thought maybe my mind was slipping!

I texted Diane, my sister, and Margaret, my friend, and we went down memory lane, from the date of the last transplant to the date of my coma a few weeks after it.

I thought of all those years my kids and I had celebrated my re-birthday. I thought of the period in the beginning, after each transplant when I counted days, then weeks, then months. And I thought about how different it was this year.

It's easy to get confused

Then I thought there is enough to worry about without beating myself up. I tried to let myself off the hook. As many people have noted, days blur together in the pandemic. Markers have slipped away. For example, I used to play tennis on certain days of the week. But I don’t have that anymore, because I didn’t feel safe playing indoor tennis. Even though it is well-ventilated and in a big bubble and people are wearing masks, it still made me nervous when I did it once. Just as days blur together, so have weeks and even months over the past year.

And as I wrote previously, it’s easy to get confused after four re-birthdays. Plus of course, I have my original birthday.

My son said he didn’t think it was a bad thing to forget. He said it shows that I was able to return to living my life in a more normal way (whatever normal is now), without dwelling on my transplant history. I wasn’t holding my breath like I used to do when approaching the date. True, I had missed out on the anticipation, but I didn’t miss the anxiety.

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