April 19, the day after my surgery, my parents will celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary. That’s right…39. The day before, I will walk into the hospital with a 92% chance of developing breast cancer and will walk out on their anniversary with less than a 3% chance.
There have been moments over the last few years where I’ve really hated being the only living child. Most of the time I’m just upset that Jake isn’t around to distract the parental units when I mess something up. It was nice being the good child for a change during those last few years of his life. His manic phases seemed to always overshadow anything I could be doing. And we were both so young. I think his manic episodes also helped to distract us from the effects of the Lyme disease. It was easier for me to look past the weight loss, limping and gray tint to his skin when he would talk to me about whatever he was so fixated on at the time – in the rapid pace and cadence that mania encouraged. It allowed us a small break from the reality of knowing a loved one was dying right in front of us.
I watched my parents spend every minute of every day worrying and praying over my brother. As the Lyme disease continued to get worse, it consumed all of us. I watched my mother pour all of her energy into taking care of him and making sure that he was safe and comfortable. I watched my father cry in frustration because he couldn’t find the right doctors to cure him. I don’t want to ever be in the situation where I have to watch them take care of me like that. I like to think that this surgery is just as much for me as it is for them.
I keep thinking about the urgency I had in having a hysterectomy. All I could think about was how I did not want to be sick and do this to them. I couldn’t handle the thought of them burying another child. I’m grateful that I got to walk out of that surgery with no illness and no need for treatment. I have no reason to believe that this upcoming surgery will be any different. For this, I am grateful. I will alleviate the worry and burden that we have all experienced over this pesky little breast cancer thing. I will remove the constant conversations about lab work or MRIs or more biopsies. It will be nice to not have to talk about it so much.
We’ve always joked about all of the horrible historical events that have happened on April 19th and how my parents have defied the odds on a day that seems so cursed – especially when you consider all they have experienced together. For those of you that aren’t aware, April 19th is the anniversary of Columbine, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Nazi invasion of Warsaw ghetto, the day that the Branch Davidian complex burnt down, and the day that Fidel Castro resigned. (On a lighter note, for those of you that are interested, it’s also the anniversary of the premiere of The Simpsons.) I like to think that this week/this wedding anniversary, my parents will show the universe one more way they’ve defied the odds…and we’ve defied the odds as a family.
So Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad…I’m sure I’ll sleep through the 19th, so I want to say it early. I love you both and am thankful for the insight and support you’ve given me. With your encouragement and support, I’m given the gift of life once again. Johnna and I are so lucky to have you.
And now, I will live to find you a retirement home where kind nurses will change your diapers and you can eat all the applesauce you want…while Johnna and I manage your estate. Just sayin…I’ll take real good care of you. I’ve got it all planned out.