As a woman who spent her adolescence fighting a tumor the size of a melon, I’m lucky to be alive. I pause for a moment of gratitude every morning to take in the sunrise and thank God for my life.
And then I see my signed poster of Ryan Cabrera.
It was 2003, and my mother finally allowed me to watch MTV from my hospital bed. I was in awe of every man on screen – but Cabrera, with his acoustic guitar, tall, frosted tips, and tumultuous relationship with the Simpson family, captured the attention of my sickly young heart. And like a dream, he came to visit me at the behest of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. I knew I could be at peace for the remainder of my short life.
But my tumor somehow shrank over the next year – a miracle! Mom and Dad couldn’t believe their baby was going to make it to graduation day. Cabrera’s star was falling as quickly as my white blood cell count.
It was barely a year later when I realized I had squandered my one and only wish. I would be stuck with this embarrassing Make-A-Wish for the rest of my now-long life, just because I was recovering from surgery during Season One of The Ashlee Simpson Show. If I had even a glimmer of hope that I would live to see another year, I would have thought about this choice a lot longer.
Other patients were wiser: one little burn victim went to Paris to see Justin Timberlake. A cancer patient learned choreography from Shakira – a dance that she no doubt uses to this very day (if her cancer hasn’t progressed).
I should have just gone to Disney World.
Whenever guests see the poster hanging in my home, they ask, “Was that the lead singer in your high school band?” Or, “Did you find that in an alley and frame it ironically?” I just cringe and say it was a gift from my weird uncle.
As anyone who is old or survived a life-threatening disease will tell you, life is crazy long. I can still see the beauty of the bumps along the way – but I can’t excuse this one, stupid, impulsive embarrassment of a teenage choice. I had a freaking disease, Goddamnit! I was a sick, impressionable young girl and no one had the foresight to stop me!
And that’s why I deserve two tickets to the upcoming One Direction concert.