September 5, 2009. A date I will never forget. Until I do. That was the day my heart stopped for no reason at all. In Sudden Cardiac Arrest circles, we/they will refer to the date as "the day I died" or "the day I died the first time" or the less macabre "my re-birthday". For me, it's always been just the day my heart stopped. Sometimes, I'll refer to it as "Skippy's birthday" - Skippy being the implanted defibrillator that came into my life and chest shortly after the whole heart-stopping-thing.
The first anniversary, 2010, was awful. Well, not truly awful - the heart didn't stop again, so it wasn't quite awful. But I had heard so much from my SCA friends about celebrating the day - a whole year with an intact heart. So as the date approached, I manufactured more and more pressure to mark the day in some momentous way. But instead of joy, I was increasingly anxious as the date crept closer. I re-lived the 2009 day over and over and over. Instead of finding joy and celebration, I was scaring myself to a bizarre degree. Like there was a heart fate switch out there somewhere that would make it stop again - on this September 5th. As if it would be an annual event. In the end, I spent the day boating with a good friend. A simple pleasure.
Then in 2011 and 2012, I vowed to let the date simply pass. And I did. No celebration, no anxiety; I knew the countdown; I was aware of it on September 2nd, on the 3rd, on the 4th. But I did nothing to mark it. For me, that seemed the safest route - I think I was determined to make September 5th an ordinary day.
And then 2013. I forgot. On September 10, I realized that the 5th had come and gone. I was so surprised, shocked even - pardon the pun. It was done. I had succeeded. September 5 had been relegated to the ranks of the mundane dates. I was relieved. And a little bit sad.
Such a neurotic; I feel bad that I forgot my SCA birthday. Like I owe Skippy an apology. Or a cake.