Tomorrow would have been Hannah's 18th birthday. Eighteen...that sounds so old! Hannah always looked forward to her birthdays (her favorite number was 22). In recent years, we always had a big family party for her birthday. She preferred getting together with her grandmas and grandpas and aunts, uncles, and cousins, to having a party with her friends.
Last year's birthday was a series of highs and lows. Less than a month before, we found out her cancer had returned and our oncologist had tearfully told us that she had less than a 5% chance of survival. She had started a new series of radiation treatments, and 4 days before her 17th birthday, she lost all of her hair. (The picture of us in the road was taken just a couple of days before that.) The bald patches had just started growing in following her first round of radiation. I shaved it off in the living room (she didn't want to do it in front of a mirror) and when I was finished, she went to look at herself and said, "I still look like me...I just don't have any hair!" She put on her wig, and went on with life.
Hannah received some wonderful gifts for her birthday last year...our extended family all got together and bought her a laptop computer (the same one I use to type these blog posts); the El Dorado High School Class of 1985 (Brad's graduating class...quite an amazing group of people) got together and gave her a TV for her bedroom, along with a DVD player, an iPod, and a pile of movies; and her high school classmates gave her a digital camera and digital frame. She also received dozens of cards, phone calls, and emails. God used so many different people to remind her of His love.
It's strange, but as I sit here tonight, I can't remember what Brad and I got her for her birthday last year. I'm just drawing a blank. The only thing I do remember is how strange it was to shop for her birthday under those circumstances, and wondering if this was going to be her last one. I also remember making a conscious decision to enjoy every moment of that day, in case we didn't have another one. I guess that's why I don't remember what we got her...it just wasn't important.
Tomorrow, we will make a conscious decision again...to take the day as a family to remember and celebrate the life of our precious daughter and sister. Please pray for us as we go through this first birthday without her.