Earlier this fall, I was in a staff meeting with my room mate, Sara. My phone buzzed, and I checked the caller ID. It was my mom. I decided I'd call her back later, so I pressed a button to ignore the call. The meeting continued. A few minutes later, my phone buzzed again. It was my mom. Figuring something must have been wrong or urgent, I asked Sara if she'd mind if I answered the call. I slid my phone open.
"Hello?" I answered.
"Oh, hi!" my mom said. "I didn't expect you to pick up."
"Well, you called twice in a row, so I figured I should answer."
My mom laughed. "I left you a message, but I realized I forgot to say 'Happy Special Day,' so I was calling back to tell you that."
I laughed and thanked my mom, and we said goodbye. I looked up, and Sara was looking at me, an expression of confusion on her face...
For as long as I can remember, the 7th of every month has been my special day. It's because my birthday falls on the 7th day of the month. After my dad passed away on July 11, 1986, my mom started thinking about how to celebrate life. She was a single mom, and she had four kids. I was the oldest, and I was only 5. In her words, "...celebrating each birthday once a year just seemed like life was to pass us by...not doing enough. I needed something more specific, more intentional. But I didn't know how to get one-on-one time with each of you. Because it originally started with the birthday idea, I picked that same day each month. It might also have had something to do with the every month reminder that something bad had happened, the 11th of every month was very difficult for the first year..."
Special Days are a celebration of LIFE. Sometimes, we'd get to pick our favorite meal, or a movie to rent. Sometimes, my mom would make a favorite dessert, or take us somewhere. Eventually, she found a plate that said Happy Special Day, and we'd get to eat our meals off that plate. Over the years, she found ways to make each of us feel special.
Billy's birthday is October 14, which makes today Billy's special day!
I asked a few people to share some of their favorite memories in honor of Billy's special day, so I'm including those below. If you'd like to take part in the special day celebration, feel free to leave a note here, or you can text or message Billy in some way.
From Ben--one of Billy's army buddies--currently deployed.
My memory with Billy that makes me smile the most would have to be when we got the police and animal control called on us. Another great memory would be running to our cars in the mornin to hide and go do "IHOP PT."
From our cousin, Bryan.
Memory 1. My high school graduation day. It's an absolute monsoon out! The ceremony is indoors. Blah Blah Blah...I get my diploma. I'm walking out and I see this kid that really resembles Billy. I get home and after a few minutes there's a know on the door. Sure enough it's him! He had driven 13 hours straight through the night, in the pouring rain, in his not so gas friendly truck to make it to my graduation on time. Graduating high school is great and all but him being there definitely was the best part of the weekend.
Memory 2. My 21st birthday! ...he flew up from South Carolina for the weekend. We went out to Boston and had an amazing time. He was definitely the crowd favorite amongst my friends. He fit right in like he had known my friends for years. And needless to say he did a great job at "looking out for me that night...." Whoops! Him being there was the best gift I could have received.
Memory 3. My trip down to DC. After him visiting me so much, I needed to return the favor. I went down to DC for a week and stayed with Billy and Rob. We had a great time. We went to all the monuments, Arlington National, and by the pentagon. He showed me where he worked. One day we went down with some of the guys in his squad to the Dave Matthews Band concert (my favorite). He has a great group of friends who welcomed me in like I was one of their own. That was one of my favorite days. The next day Billy, Rob, and I drove up to Baltimore to watch the Red Sox play the Orioles. It was a beautiful sunny day. We had a blast. I'll never forget that trip. It was awesome!
Overall, any time I get to spend with him is a great memory. It was tough living in Mass and you guys in Colorado but whenever you visited we always had a special connection. The same age definitely helped but we have similar personalities too. He'll always be the brother I never had. I hope he has a great special day! Love you Billy!
From our friend, Gee (Glenda), who now lives in Alaska.
Well my very favorite thing about you, Billy, has always been your giant-sized heart that reaches out and loves them all........my second is your crystal clear twinkling blue eyes that used to melt my heart into a puddle when you would snuggle in right beside me in the pew in Durango, Colorado, with all your precious siblings. As a matter of fact your whole family have pretty big hearts that love to give love out. I love you Billy.....thanks for the heart touch!
So happy special day, Billy! We love you!
How Billy is Doing
A few days ago, he said he felt like he got hit by a truck. The herceptin was hard to take! But each day, he feels a bit better. He's getting stronger. Just yesterday, after a full day spent with visitors, he went for a long walk around the 7th floor. He often comes back from a walk feeling nauseous, but yesterday, he seemed a lot stronger. Little by little, he seems to be getting stronger. Please keep praying that his stomach would start working again!
Weekends tend to be full of visitors. It's something we all look forward to, and Billy loves getting to see people. So thanks for your visits and your prayers and all of the support!