Somewhere in the past three years since the colonoscopy which diagnosed and located the malignant tumor in my rectum/sigmoid colon, I've made a mistake or two in the day count. I guess it doesn't really matter. But it is 3 years ago today that I had that fateful colonoscopy.
Anniversaries like that are significant. This spring, for instance, my wife and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a trip to Las Vegas. An unnamed family member celebrated her 60th birthday this year too. And today, 2 unnamed other family members - who just happen to be twins - will be celebrating their 33rd birthdays.
Anniversaries help us keep track of chronology, the flow of time, the investment of energy and resources, and so many other things. They also highlight the emotional landscape of our lives. Wedding anniversaries, birthdays of family members and friends, deaths of dearly departed people in our lives - it's not so much the number as the highlighting of the calendar, the reminder of the ripples in our lives of so many people, dead or alive.
I don't think too many of those who wrote to me yesterday or visited me today had any conscious recognition that I was thinking of the 3rd anniversary of my diagnosis. It was mere coincidence that so many loved ones chose that day to tell me of my impact on them, to reflect on my legacy for my sons, to whisper a tender phrase in my ear, to indicate a wish for some better days ahead with minimal pain and maximal enjoyment of life, to offer supper for tomorrow night, to request forgiveness of unintended infliction of pain, to laugh about girls who provided "memorable" moments for us as teenagers, and so on.
It would have been difficult to coordinate, even if somebody had recalled the significance of the calendar date. An aunt in Calgary, friends right across the country, a brother- and sister-in-law in China, friends and family in the tri-city area, a fellow patient in the United States - they all did their part today to move me away from early morning thoughts of pain and death to a more fundamental recognition that I am part of a sphere of mutual love and respect.
Whatever else happens now, however quickly, whatever the pain and sorrow, nobody can take today away from me. Day 1096 (three years) will remain a reminder of the ties that bind, the love that heals, the hugs, kisses and words that transcend all else.