Bon anniversaire, part 2

I always worried someone would notice me, and then when no one did, I felt lonely. 
– Curtis Sittenfeld

Today is the anniversaire (birthday) of yet another of my August birthday friends. For some reason, I seem drawn to people born this month (and they to me, I hope). Other “birthday months” that work for me in terms of friendships are February, November, and May; a greater number of friends have birthdays during those months. My birthday is in October, and a handful of friends’ birthdays are, too.

I love birthdays–whevever they fall–and all sorts of other important dates, especially wedding anniversaries, and not just my own. My husband was born in February and we got married in June; it’s been nice to alternate celebrating one of our birthdays and our anniversary, every 4 months. When I was growing up, I always felt that my parents’ anniversary was more important than anyone’s birthday in the family; after all, it’s when we  they became a family. If not more significant than a birthday, it was at least (way) more romantic. It meant they weren’t just alive for another year, but were together another year…and they continued to be, for 58 years, when my father passed away.

I grew up the middle child in my family, and tried to stay under the radar as much as possible. It wasn’t all that difficult. Not being noticed equaled having more autonomy and independence. But being forgotten about can have its downside.

It’s the paradox of a writer’s life, I guess: you need to want to work alone (I do), and not mind being alone (I don’t)–but you need to connect with others, too (I try). When I’m under the radar, I can get a lot done, but it’s a solitary endeavor–and sometimes it’s easy to feel a bit malheureuse.

La solution?  For me, it’s to notice others, to connect, and to celebrate.

Bon anniversaire!













Joyeux anniversaire! Celebrating birthdays (and other anniversaries)

I love the French word for birthday: anniversaire.

It sounds a lot better than date de naissance. It also seems to suggest that birthdays (while fun to celebrate, and to be joyeux about), are perhaps no more–or less–important than other memorable dates in our lives.

They’re anniversaries.

I know four people who are celebrating birthdays–anniversaires–this week, and one whose wedding anniversary is Saturday. My son’s 19th birthday, May 8, 1991, was a memorable one, but not in a good way: on that date, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

It was the day after his last final exam at the end of his freshman year in college. Over the next 3 1/2 months, he endured invasive brain surgery and 5 weeks of radiation therapy–and he survived cancer.

His last day of radiation was exactly 4 years ago today: August 20, 2010.

It was a Friday, and the end of his first week back at school. His head was bald and his spirits were high. He was full of hope and grateful to be alive. A few weeks later, he joined the Survivors Committee of UGA Relay for Life. If you don’t know about Relay (I didn’t, until cancer happened to my family), it works to raise money for the American Cancer Society, to fight against the disease and find a cure.


Since then, my son has had countless (it seems) MRIs, all of which have been clean. He has earned his undergraduate degree, and he just started grad school.

And he’s had 4 more birthdays.

My daughter is a sophomore at UNC, and she has joined UNC Relay for Life.

Joyeux anniversaire!


I’ve written the story of my emotional struggle as my son battled cancer. It’s called ALL THE ABOVE, and will be released in 2015. 

photo 6

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