December 10, 2003.
There are details about that day that I can never forget. Like the way I sat in the haematologist’s office staring at the stupid little animal ornaments on his desk. Like the crooked angle of his polka-dot bow tie. Like the way he waffled on about diseases and then BAM! The words kicked me in the guts and set my body shaking. I can never forget asking him, Am I going to die?
December 10. Every year it comes around.
I wonder if I ever will forget that date. Even if I try to pretend it’s just another date, at the back of my mind I remember it’s ‘that day’ – the day I was told I had leukaemia.
I carry dates around like sentimental fool, like birthdays or wedding anniversaries. But there’s nothing sentimental about this date. So why have I carried it with me? I imagine it might be like how people remember the death of a loved one. A death anniversary. Etched like a pesky splinter under the skin.
On December 10, 2003 a part of me died. It was the death of innocence and simplicity. I wrote about it much more eloquently in a post earlier this year, called Before and After.
Maybe it’s not so bad to remember the date. It reminds me of how fragile we are. It reminds me of how random life is. Your luck could turn on a dime.
There is another date I will never forget: January 21, 2004. It was the day I was told I was in complete remission. The day I knew I would live.
Without December 10, January 21 would be meaningless. I can’t have one without the other. And I will always celebrate January 21 like its the biggest party on earth. Being alive is a gift. Sweeter with the second chance.