Some people spend a week or longer celebrating their birthdays. A friend from work spent the entire month of January celebrating his birthday this year, complete with a party full of out-of-state guests. Well, this is my birthday week and I'm not exactly celebrating.
My sister, whom I visited in Boston earlier this month, is drawing her final breaths. Her cancer seemed to flare up right after I left Boston, and she is not expected to make it through the week.
I still send her a couple of emails each day, but I don't know if she's able to read them. I received what is undoubtedly the last email that I'll ever receive from her on Monday.
She started asking me what I wanted for my birthday weeks ago, and all I could think of was that she had far bigger problems than what to get me for my birthday. I never really answered.
Today a box arrived at my door from Boston, with my niece's return address. My birthday is Saturday, but I couldn't wait to see if there was anything in the box from my sister, so I opened it.
It's not totally clear, but I think there's a card from her. I don't recognize the handwriting on the envelope, but I know she has become very weak. She wouldn't want me to open it until Saturday, so I won't. There are wrapped presents in the box, and I think 2 of them are from my sister.
She sent me a gift for my birthday 2 years ago. She had just been diagnosed with cancer of the tongue, and I couldn't bring myself to open the present for several months. It was too precious. It was from my sister, whose future was now in jeopardy.
Heaven knows when I'll open the gifts which just arrived. I've already opened my last email from her. The thought of opening my last gift from my sister turns my stomach inside out.