After only slightly limping up to the front desk at the cancer center and stating my name, the lady behind the desk put my wristband on and then double checked it. “I have something for you.” she said and walked away. She came back with a medium-ish bright red gift bag with a helium ballon tied to the top of it that brightly exclaimed Happy Birthday! I looked out over the waiting room and every set of eyes was on me. Who in the hell gets gifts in the cancer center? And this was my second time!
I took the bag over by the windows and sat it on the sill, away from the eyes of the other patients. I opened the card that had some touching words written in it but no signature. Inside were some of my favorite things and again, I was brought to my knees.
I picked up all the stuff I’d brought with me; book, phone, fleece and now my quite obvious bag and found the closest chair, all eyes still on me. The nurse called my name. I gathered up all my stuff and walked toward him. He didn’t move. I said, “Are we going somewhere? Or are we going to have the party right here?” He twitched out of his stunned silence without answering me and turned and walked back to the poking corral. I followed.
I sat all my stuff down and said, “What? Not used to people celebrating birthdays at the cancer center?”
Him, looking down, avoiding my eyes, wrapping the tourniquet around my arm: “Um, no. This is a first for me.”
Me: “Yeah, me too.”
Him: “Well, congratulations.”
Me: “Thank you. I like to bring the party with me wherever I go.”
After he took all the blood from me he needed, I went back to the rather full waiting room and sat in the only chair that didn’t have someone next to it. It happened to be under an air vent and my balloon bobbed, danced and noisily crinkled as if to rub everyone’s nose in it. In what, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe that I made it to another birthday? Or that I had some folks that went out of their way to make this infusion a little easier, a little fun? Or maybe an attempt to draw attention and embarrass me.
My name was called again and I gathered up my conspicuous package along with everything else. Again the nurse just stopped and looked at me like maybe I was lost.
Nurse: “Uh, celebrating your birthday?”
Me: “I guess so.”
Nurse: “Would you like me to hold it while I get your weight and vitals?”
Nurse: “Anything good in there?”
Me: “Just a few nudie mags and a couple packs of cigarettes.”
Nurse: Blank stare.
Friday was my birthday and I was able to spend time with several folks over a few days. The weather was beautiful and I relished my time outdoors. I was able to connect with folks for a meal, coffee or a bike ride and have a few more things scheduled to drag it out. It’s a good excuse to make people spend time with you. My biggest problem this year is fitting all of them into my schedule. What a great problem to have.
A couple of side notes:
* All of my blood work was normal. I’m quite healthy except for this nagging case of cancer.
* I hope my friends are always this bad at covering their tracks when they attempt to do things anonymously.
* For all of those that took a moment to wish me a happy birthday in some form, thank you. I feel a huge amount of gratitude to have so many wonderful people in my life. I was able to enjoy a lot of laughs and made some damn good memories. I expect many more to come.
* I came across this article this morning and it gave me a big grin so I thought I’d share. Only click if you like motorcycles and fun.
And a couple of pics to show you I’m still kicking.
Partying with the Keldermans. I need a nap just thinking about it.
Breakfast with my guys.
Thanks for checking in. The sun is shining and I’m going to go ride my bike.