93rd Birthday

Two beautiful, ridiculous peas in a pod. 
The night before it all happened I vowed to call the doctor in the morning and find out what was wrong with Lily. I secretly prayed it would all go away. All of it. And I could go back to doing whatever it was I did before she was diagnosed.

Lily had been vomiting and holding her head to one side. The pediatrician declared it a bladder infection. But if it was her bladder, why was she so weak? Why wouldn't it stop?

Mike said it was like she couldn't even crawl anymore.

That day, May 16, we found ourselves at CHOP, in the ER.  I should have known that things were really, really bad when they told us not to feed Lily anymore--in case (in case of what? I was too naive to ask). And then when the three doctors rounded the corner as a unified team--I knew. I knew what the news was--I had been googling her symptoms.

A mass, a mass, there was a mass in her brain. A brain tumor. A fucking brain tumor.

And this was all before I called my Dad, my best friend, to wish him Happy Birthday. He was turning 87.

Lily was just 14 months old.

It is a funny thing to me--the believer in all things good and godly and Christ-like that my beloved daughter would be given a life-threatening diagnosis on the day we celebrate the life of my beloved father.

My Dad was the first person I called. He cried. I promised him I would pray, right at that moment on my knees, social norms be-damned. I promised to pray with every breath until I had no more breath.

It was his birthday gift, I suppose, my devotion to the God my Dad loved.

It was the only year, since I could speak, that I did not wish my Dad  a Happy Birthday.

That day, May 16, 2007--was the beginning of the end for my Dad and the beginning of the beginning for Lily. As Lily got better--as she beat the brain tumor--my Dad began the slow decline into old age. She saved and rebuilt her brain as my father's brain slowly unhinged and broke into bits.

I often wonder if my Dad bargained away his life for Lily's--I wonder if one can even do that--ask God to make a trade. Or if Lily's brain tumor aged him as it aged me--swiftly and without grace--and I have more time left on my clock; he had less on his.

Or if was simply a coincidence that his own mortality became apparent at the same time his infant granddaughter's was hanging in the balance. If it was just time and age and the rhythm of life here on earth.

I'll never know.

Lily and my Dad, their lives are forever intertwined and tangled in a way that is permanent. His birthday is her real birthday in so many ways. It is the day we found out what was hunting her life. It is the day we began to save her life and restore her to health.

It is the day--today--that I can finally say Happy Birthday, Dad. He would have been 93. And Happy Birthday, Lily, she will be 93, someday.

That is something I know.


  1. Happy Birthday to your family. Thank you for sharing this tough but beautiful moment in your life. I often wonder about the bartering with God thing. I know I would trade anything to protect my kids and it sounds like your Dad would have as well. God bless your family!

  2. Happy Birthday to your dad and to Lily! Beautiful post!

  3. Trying to type through my tears. What an incredible legacy - I would choose to believe he happily bargained for your precious daughters life - that's what we do as parents and grandparents for those we love most. Happy Birthday, I am sure he has a huge grin on today!

  4. Going through my day, reading about Angelina Jolie, and eco friendly kids toys, and new recipes... and then I read this and it's like the full weight of the world really touches down. My dad is my best friend too, and I loathe the day I'll have to be without him. Happy birthday to Lily and to the legacy of your father. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. I had chills and tears reading this. Thank you for sharing such a private moment. Hugs!

  6. What a heart wrenching post, Trish. And what a wonderful legacy your dad gave you. xoxo

  7. Beautifully written. What an amazing life your dad gave you and Lily and what special memories you all will have of him forever. Love to you...

  8. I love you my dear, sweet, beautiful, kind and loving friend. Happy Birthday to your Dad!

  9. Wow...I am at a loss for words...this is beautifully written.

  10. Absolutely beautiful post. Thank you. :)


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