An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.
I’ve recently been thinking about birthdays, anniversaries and other events that commemorate the existence or longevity of relationships, lives, and important activities. This year, as with every year, is filled with several such markers which will recognize the presence of something or someone my life. I will celebrate the birthdays of my children; once again taking time to reflect on how quickly the time has passed since they each decided to depart my womb and enter the world as individuals in their own right. I will celebrate the birthdays of other loved ones as I give thanks for their existence.
In some cases, these anniversaries recognize the time since something ended instead of marking a beginning. This year marks the eleventh year since my first marriage ended and the fifth year since the end of my second one. It will be two years since I gave up dating. I’ll also celebrate one year in my new home, which is also one year since I decided to give up the battle I was fighting trying to keep up an old ranch-style home that I could not maintain nor adequately afford.
In yet other instances, the dates signify transitions rather than births or deaths. For example, it really is inadequate (though it is true) to say that I gave up dating two years ago. I did, but that’s not the whole story. I also met a wonderful man who is somehow able to tolerate and even, most of the time, enjoy my distractedness and my quirks. This year also marks the second year since I realized and began working on some of my own goals and dreams, instead of continually being tied up with making others’ dreams come true. That’s a good thing. I remember the day and the place where I made some pivotal decisions for myself. Decisions which are just now bearing fruit and taking me through more change. Each transition is just another step along the path I began very intentionally walking in 2010.
This year, as well as hosting some notable anniversaries and birthdays, seems as though it is birthing some events that I might later look back on and recognize each year. I wonder, will I look back in years to come on every Valentine’s Day and think, “Wow, just (insert number here) years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. Will I speculate each year that it’s been this many years since that particular event, or that one, or that one? I do not yet know these things.
What I do know is this: events during the first quarter of 2012 have changed my perspective on life. Before this, I was still facing the big half century birthday, but I was facing it a bit cavalierly. I thought, “I look young for my age. I feel great. I surely shall live to be 90 or a hundred.”
Life changes on a dime.
The form of cancer I have is entirely curable. Nobody ever wants to get cancer, but if you have to pull the cancer card in the Game of Life, the kind I have is the one to draw. It is probably one of the most curable especially if caught early, which mine was. I had to have surgery. I might have to have radiation (that’s a big might; the fact that radiation might not even be needed tells you how early stage I am). I won’t have to have chemo. I am incredibly blessed and just as grateful. But my odds of getting cancer again, have just increased significantly. Going through something like a 50th birthday, at the same time as experiencing a cancer diagnosis, when your youngest isn’t even in middle school yet, makes you think. It makes you think long and hard about the value of life and things and the people in your life.
At the same time, certain things become less important while other things (like getting well and staying strong) become more important. The daily requirements of life morph into this strange place where they are both extremely important and not at all relevant. This is the most difficult aspect of all. How to live daily in a way that is relevant and meaningful, when so much of the daily stuff we do doesn’t amount to diddly squat. It is vitally important that I continue to maintain and do the daily things, but so much of the things we make issues over just don’t matter in the long run.
2012 seems to also be birthing events I might well look back on as markers. I wonder if Valentine’s Day will now have a new meaning for me each year as the day I was diagnosed with cancer. Will I look back and say, in years to come, that it was (insert the number of years here) years ago when I found out I had cancer, or I had my first surgery. Or will I always think of January 6, 2012 (the day of that first biopsy) as significant? I wonder.
I wonder about these things and I wonder, now, about other things.
Instead of counting the days since certain things have happened, I now begin to wonder how many days until…