I know a lot of people (and one extremely intelligent smooshy faced bulldog) with birthdays in September. My cool pal Benny, who I first met when he was playing Little League, and who now is all grown up with a job and tattoos; my older sister Genny, who somehow survived not only being a teen in the '70s, but also being the practice kid for my parents; my friend Bernie the Attorney, whom I respect deeply for choosing a profession that rhymes with his name. There’s loads of ‘em. Apparently, December/January is a good time for snugglin’ in and baby-makin.’
Out of all those friends and doggies, though, I have been obsessed for weeks with the birthday that falls today, the 15th. It is the day my sweet friends Dorothy and Tracy were born. Identical twins, brunette and beautiful, with wide smiles and good hearts. While most of the people I know are sarcastic, jaded, caustic and inherently rotten (but loads of fun), Dorothy and Tracy are genuinely kind, thoughtful, graceful people, who, coincidentally, are also loads of fun. I met them in middle school and have adored them ever since, but not nearly as much as they adored each other.
Today though, Dorothy celebrates their birthday alone. Tracy died June 1st from complications of leukemia. They didn’t even know she was sick until a few days before she was gone. There was no time for those of us far away to see her or talk to her. A care package I sent with cozy jammies arrived on the day of her funeral.
I’ve been anxious and nervous about today ever since. I've felt like a parent trying to keep danger and sadness away from a child. But, for the life of me, I could not figure out a way to keep September 15th from coming to Dorothy. I brightly told her to “celebrate for both of you!” and “Tracy wouldn’t want you to be sad!” Both are true, but both sound so empty, so very, very stupid. Fortunately, Tracy was the kind of person who not only sent cards and letters and gifts to her sister all the time, they all had heartfelt special notes, little drawings, lovely words in her tiny, perfect handwriting. So, Dorothy knows she was loved. And I think she knows that Tracy left this world feeling very loved. That must be of the smallest comfort, I hope, when she looks in the mirror everyday and sees her lost other half.
I know there’s nothing I can say to change how Dorothy feels today. But – I can tell the other six or so of you who read this to squeeze your parents tighter and smooch your husband harder and call your friends more often even when there’s nothing to say. Smile at the mailman and kiss your dog on the lips. Send cozy jammies to someone healthy. Wear cozy jammies, and eat birthday cake for Tracy. It's all just too uncertain to live any other way. Happy Birthday, Dorothy & Tracy. I love you both.