Congrats, You're Not Dead Yet! - Uncover Ostomy
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Congrats, You’re Not Dead Yet!

My birthday has always been an unfortunate event and this year’s birthday is no better.

The day I was actually born was great for my parents (I’m told), cause, you know, new baby and all that, but was it great for me? I don’t know, I mean, I didn’t ask to be here.

Throughout my childhood, my birthday always sucked because it was either the day before, the day of, or the day after school started, so no one was available for a party and I had no locker to decorate. Celebrating my birthday also meant that summer was officially over. Of course, we can’t forget the birthdays during those years when I was sick with Crohn’s Disease and had to be wheeled around in a wheelchair during our yearly summer expeditions to the Canadian National Exhibition.

I guess it was cool moving into my university residence on my 18th birthday, but I didn’t know anyone and there was too much going on for anyone to care.

Things got real depressing when, 10 years ago – yes, this year marks a decade sincemy dad died 3 days before my 20th birthday. I spent my birthday sitting shiva (a Jewish cultural thing where you sit in a room for a week with your immediate family while people come to tell you how sorry they are), and then going straight back to university where everyone looked at me like I was going to burst into tears at any moment. Yeah, that was a fun one.

The year before that, my grandmother died 3 weeks before my 19th birthday, so at least shiva was over by then? I did get to go out and drink legally, but it’s not like I wasn’t drinking before then… (lol obviously.)

This past week, when my grandfather (zaidy) died. I spent my 3rd wedding anniversary at his funeral and then sitting shiva once again, remembering that death is all around us. 

And here we are, today, the actual day of my birthday, after living through a horrible week of death and more shiva, to find myself surrounded by people letting me down, forcing me to pick up the slack that they don’t care to leave behind, and reminding me why I don’t trust anyone.

At least my husband got me a thoughtful gift.

Earlier this year, I had told myself that my 30th birthday was going to be fun. I was going to be happy to be 30 year’s-old and I wasn’t going to be an old grump (like my husband), and complain about getting older. After all, today is supposed to mark the day that I’ve made it (presumably) 1/3 of the way through this thing called life.

Well, summer is over, people suck, death happened yet again, and everything hurts.

Yup, my 30th birthday sucks all the same.


Ugh, even just saying that I’m sad that my birthday is shitty makes me feel shitty. It makes me feel like one of those greedy children who got the pink toy instead of the yellow one and threw a fit.

I mean, look at my mom, who’s experienced so much death in a much deeper context than me, and she’s powering through every day like a queen. Not to mention that she doesn’t complain one bit.

I look at the people I know who suffer from health issues everyday that are stuck at home or in hospital beds who would give anything to just feel ok.

I read the news and see how the Amazon is burningcities are drowning from hurricanes, there are mass shootings every week, and I look in the mirror and think: what a spoiled brat I am for feeling sad that my birthday sucks.

I should be grateful to be alive. After all, that’s, apparently, a fucking goal in my family.

I know. I hear it.

It feels weird and icky to be upset that my birthday sucks.

I mean, I’m a rational, logical human being who understands that birthdays are a construct made up by toy companies to sell toys to greedy little children, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be upset that everyone else gets to feel joy and happiness on their birthdays, while mine are constantly shrouded in a cloud of disappointment, loss, and sadness, right? I’m allowed to feel this way, right?

No, I don’t need a week dedicated to me and all the things about me and I certainly don’t need people to praise me for being older and wiser. Sure, I’ve been through a lot to make it this far, but if I were to be graded for getting here, I would give myself a solid C-.

I remember when I was in so much stomach pain that I couldn’t move. I remember crying myself to sleep wondering when it would be over. I remember waiting for it all to end. Looking back, it still seems crazy that I’m here. Healthy, living a productive life with an ostomy, and alive. How? 

So, is it really such a bad thing that I want one day a year to recognize that I’m somehow still functioning? Should I feel bad that I want to celebrate that I’ve somehow gotten through another year? I think I should be allowed to commemorate that I’ve survived death for this long. 


You know what? I should and I’m going to and I will. 

So, summer’s over, people suck, death is all around us, and I can’t believe how much my back hurts, but I’m going to make today just a little bit about me.

No, I don’t want it to be a birthday because those clearly suck, but I’ve survived long enough to be able to appreciate the milestone of still being alive.

Happy not being dead yet anniversary to me. 

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Jessica Grossman
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