My friend Mia always is worried about me because I never worry about myself. We met for drinks last week and I told her about my long commute to my new job. I told her to offset the time lost to my commute, I have taken to napping on the subway. She tried to scare me with the possibility of robbery or a subway slashing. I told her I wasn't worried about it and sure enough Monday morning I had an amazing nap on the 4 train. 

The thing is I do worry about things all the time. 

I worry that I am going to get sick. Not sick with a inconvenient common cold, a stomach virus that causes me to miss bagel fridays at work or even the fad viruses like Ebola or Zika. I am afraid that I will get sick just like my mother got sick.

When I was in the 3rd grade, I got dressed in my special birthday outfit, excited to celebrate with my friends. Before I could walk out of the door, I needed to change my mother as she had soiled herself. Eight year old me, removed her pajamas, cleaned her of fecal matter, and got her into a fresh pair of pajama pants. With the cleanup, I ruined my nearby gloves. And sweated through my perfect little birthday outfit.  I remember asking God "Cant I just have a nice regular kid birthday?"

To this day I hate my birthday, because it reminds me of a time when I needed someone and felt like I had absolutely no one, Past the age of 19, no one really care about birthdays but I do. Because I have to. As an adult, I try to make up for all of the birthdays I would beg for my mother to talk to me, unable to understand that she never would again. I make up for the birthdays that I spent lying and crying on the bathroom floor because it was the only room with a lock. I make up for the birthdays that lacked a party because we just couldn't afford a cake, clown, or decorations. I make up for that one birthday where I was robbed. 

I am afraid that her disease is hereditary. I am afraid that I will get sick and leave my kid to the same pain that I had as a kid. I'm afraid that my kid will cry every time a permission slip needs to be signed by mom. I'm afraid I will eventually be trapped in my own body unable to get up and go as I please. I am afraid that my kids will hate me for being sick. I'm afraid to have kids. I'm afraid that my search for love, friendship and support isn't about the beauty of life but about my fear of being alone in my sick. I am afraid for every day that isn't today. 

But I do my best to live everyday as though I'm fearless. 


Cynia Barnwell