Twenty five years ago today I gave birth to my second son, Joshua Ray. Twenty five years ago I had a friend named Janet dying of brain cancer. Janet was 24, married but had no children of her own. We had been friends since I let her cheat on a math test in 10th grade...my first year in Arkansas. She was a fun loving person and we were very good friends. She got married young and so did I and as life would have it we saw each other less frequently as time went on. She was diagnosed with cancer while I was in Nursing school and when she had the surgery I went to her house and did dressing changes...scared out of my mind, I was! I took her to some of her radiation appointments and watched as she realized it wasn't helping.
Sometime during my pregnancy with Josh she asked me, what was for her, a huge favor...would I name my baby after her if I had a girl. Her name was Janet May and I so wanted to fulfill her request and finally settled on Tracy Janette as a way to honor her. The one thing I wanted to know about this child growing inside me was if indeed I was having a daughter. I already had a son and really did want a little girl but mostly wanted like we all do...a healthy child. My baby was due to be born on November 25th and that November was a long one. I had several ultrasounds and each time the baby was turned so that the sex of the child was a mystery. I actually fell once late in the pregnancy and had even more look-sees to make sure everything was alright and still...the mystery. November 25th came and went and no birth. Every day I waited for those contractions to start but they didn't come. Finally, on December 5th my doctor put me in the hospital to induce labor. They did indeed induce false labor but still my baby didn't budge! They stopped the medicine and said if I didn't deliver over night they would send me back home! I was 10 days overdue and they were going to send me home? I was a bit frustrated and overwhelmed by then but as soon as the clock struck the new day...now officially December 6th and also as fate would have it, Janet's birthday, I started into labor. The nurses realized the physical reason for my delay in delivering my baby...a breach birth was imminent and at 4 in the morning they wheeled me off to deliver with a C-section room set up just in case. I delivered that baby without the aid of surgery at 4:40 Am on December 6th and finally was able to see for myself that I would not be able to fulfill her last request. Joshua Ray was born and within a minute I looked up at his father and said...this will be my last child, no more, I'm done! I don't know when it hit me that I may not have had a girl that I could name after Janet but I had him on her last birthday. I held my excitement and waited until 7 that morning to call her. She lived another 5 months but that morning she was the most excited I had ever seen her. She came to see Josh and myself that morning and it was so evident that she was succumbing to the cancer in her body except for that sparkle in her eyes and the smile so big on her face. I felt like I had given her a gift after all even though I really had nothing to do with it except go with the flow.
Thanks for being my friend Janet May Howell and gracing me with your fun and always real self. I have told this story of you and my son having the same birthday at least 25 times as every year on his birthday my thoughts turn to you. Rest in peace Janet.
Happy birthday my beautiful son. You were kept inside me 11 extra days by the pull of that wonderful all-knowing Universe and its everlasting wisdom. It is snowing outside as I look out the window this morning just as it did then...remembering that day twenty five years ago when in ways I hadn't imagined, I fulfilled that one last request. I love you so much!