This year, it feels like I’m living life through the looking glass. Like I’ve tumbled down a rabbit hole and the only way out is through to the bottom. So, I’d already decided several weeks ago that this year would be an “Unbirthday.” One that is low-key and there isn’t much celebrating or other goings on.
When we were kids, my grandfather used to tease and ask my sister and I if we would give up our birthdays each year so we could have “double-bubble” next year. As kids we always said no. I suppose that we never trusted that he’d remember that we’d made the trade, and it would be truly doubly better the next year. Cancer sucks and changes all the rules of the game, so I’m saying screw it. Cancer’s already taken any guarantees I thought I had in this life, so I’m going for double-bubble next year.
New Year’s Eve this year was just another day. This isn’t the year anyway that will mark my annual trip around the sun. This year is the year that will end for me at Thanksgiving. That will be the holiday where I can hopefully stop checking boxes to get to the next treatment milestone. It will be the time that I can start counting the days until my food tastes normal again. It’ll be the beginning of flu season again, but maybe by my this time next year, I’ll be able to travel again without worrying quite as much about picking up any and every germ around and agonizing about whether my immune system will be able to fight it off.
What about double-bubble? What does that mean? Well, double-bubble will mean that I will treat myself to a night out, or a night in, depending on what I feel like doing next year, and I’ll do it with gusto. It’ll mean being able to do many of the things I’ve not been able to do this year because cancer robs you of so many things in life that are meant to be enjoyed. Like movies, weekends away, happy hours, dinners out and maybe a bottle of wine among friends. Maybe double-bubble will mean finding ways to celebrate all month long instead of just a day or a weekend. Whatever form it takes, it won’t include cancer or chemotherapy. It will mean I’m free to live my life to its fullest and make sure that the only checkboxes I’m marking are the ones on my bucket list.