G G A G C B, G G A G D C…. It’s a Great Code for Living
I realize that each of us can have a birthday every day as well as every year.
Yesterday was this Leo’s birthday. Having experienced several odd symptoms in the past few days like a mysterious loss of appetite and sudden loss of 10 or more pounds in a week along with several other manisfestations I’ll leave unwritten, I decided to take a PTO day. It was a beautiful summer day in the South Bay and the thought of hunkering down in my lair with the soothing ocean breezes drifting through the sunlit window was more than appealing.
As I started to go through more than 200 Facebook greetings and emails from friends, family and fellow patients I have had the honor of meeting through this journey (thank you all…), I opened one and smiled. It read: G G A G C B, G G A G D C… Four weeks ago, I would have needed a Captain America decoder ring to know what the heck the sender was trying to say. Not now. It was from my music instructor and I recognized that is was the first two lines of Happy Birthday. Now what may seem like a trivial accomplishment for many, was monumental for me. I was comprehending a language that once would have seemed as foreign as Swahili to me. One that always seemed a bridge too far.
Instantly, I reached for my sax, impatiently assembling it and preparing the reed. I ran my fingers over the keys and blew… the musical greeting filled the room. I realized the windows were still open, but I didn’t care. This was a birthday celebration of the soul, not of passing years. I played it several times actually hoping the notes would drift out over the neighborhood and share the joy however imperfect the initial execution. I then secured all the windows and door walls out of respect for my neighbors’ aural sensitivities and proceeded to practice for the next 5 hours–just this USC Trojan belting and cursing away at times on his borrowed sax (which I have been reminded is probably as old as me and retired from the Stanford marching band). Life is funny that way. It’s also good. Yesterday I hardly even thought of the “C” word or my sometimes paralyzing fear of coming off treatment later this month.
Last night, my family made me play my own birthday song. Though abridged, it was wonderful. My younger son then took out his trumpet and played some silly beginner songs with me before impressing me with a few surprises of his own.
I have spoken with many men in this brotherhood with shared fears and weariness. As I think back to yesterday, I remain convinced we patients all need our own G G A G C B, G G A G D C code, whatever it is and however we find it. I was also reminded that for us, given new perspectives by nature of our realities, everyday is a Birthday in its own right. We just need to open ourselves to the idea.
To all of you, Happy Birthday today, tomorrow and every day to come. I wish you peace and joy always.