It’s my birthday! Another day to check off and to laugh that I’ve made it this far. You see, I’ve got this crooked six inch scar down the middle of my chest that reminds me I wasn’t supposed to see my first Christmas. It also makes me wonder if the surgeon maybe knocked a shot or two back to ease his nerves before cracking me open. I can’t blame him if he did. Tapping into an eight-year-old with only of a 50/50 chance of success would make anyone nervous.
I’ve got another chewed up little scar that lays right beneath my collar bone from where my oncologist would plug a stinging witches brew into me weekly for twelve stewing weeks. I swear I could hear cackling laughter echoing throughout that chemo room lined with grey lazyboys every Thursday. I’ve got a thin one inch scar under my left eye that reminds me fights don’t always come at you straight on and won’t always go the way you hope, just like life.
With all that and just to keep it interesting, God dropped me into a family that carries a fALS gene. That means I’ve got a 50/50 chance of life turning pretty damn ugly at a relatively young age. That’s a great big sucker-punch from life, especially after I had kids. Even if some days I swear they’re secretly trying to knock me off.
Remembering I will die one day isn’t all that hard for me. I’ve got all these little reminders telling me I should’ve been dead long ago. It seems God kept me around for some reason. I like to think it was to raise my girls. Nothing fancy for me. Not fame or fortune, but just to have a family, though some days that feels like it’s shaking apart.
None of this is special to me. Everyone has a story or two to tell about good and bad times. Love ’em all, I say. It ain’t easy, I know, but maybe the sweet and hearty laughs adding days and the lead weight in your chest (that’s where I carry my stress) taking those days away balance out in your family’s favor.
Travis Jones is a blue collar dad filling up his journal for his girls. He also wrote Watching Him Break Down, I Was Breaking Too and They Should Have Noticed My Hairless, Silky-Smooth Head about his experience of cancer.
The illustration is by Gary Houston and used under a Creative Commons License.