I remember my 18th Birthday Party. I’d asked could I have a party and attempted to get the day off work so that I could set up the marquee that my parents had borrowed from a relative. I’d put in my holiday request and thought nothing more of it. It got to a few weeks before my birthday and my holiday was denied – I was a bit like “huh? What’s going on?” but then just put it down to that someone else must have already had the day off or they thought that weekend would be busy or something like that. I’d later find out that my Mum had been into the store that I worked in and chatted to my manager and asked him to deny my holiday. My parents spent most of the Saturday while I was at work setting up for the party.
I remember Chris coming in a bright Hawaiian shirt – my friends remembered him because of it. My cousin K had dyed her hair very blonde and my friend JP said that she looked like Kylie Minogue. We had my little CD player working it’s hardest to play some music loud enough to fill the marquee. My cousin J came – he was about 4 at the time, my Mum relit the candles on the birthday cake in the kitchen so that J could then blow out the candles. Along the hallway my Mum had put up my old school pictures and pictures of me when I was really little.
Today would be Esther Earl’s 18th Birthday if she was still here. I don’t know if you’ve heard of her. Maybe you’re a NerdFighter and you know exactly who she is. Maybe you don’t know. Maybe you’re Becca who I told this morning about Esther Earl while trying not to have a weepy moment. Maybe you’ve read The Fault in Our Stars and wonder who that dedication is written to.
So who is Esther, why am I blogging about her today and why is today Esther Day. The short version goes something like this. There’s a YouTube channel called VlogBrothers – two brothers called Hank and John Green from the USA vlog each day to each other. Around this channel a whole “community” popped up like a fan club – like 30 Seconds to Mars has The Echelon and Justin has his Beliebers, the vlogbrother fans are called Nerdfighters. One of the members of that community is Esther Earl. It would be her birthday today except in 2006 she was diagnosed with cancer – the doctors did what they could but in the end the cancer was too bad and took her from her family on the 25th August 2010. Just over three weeks after her 16th Birthday.
Somewhere along the line John met Esther and they became friends along with a whole group of people. I heard about Esther via the channel which I guess is why I’m writing this.
On the 25th August when it was posted on the internet that Esther had passed away, I had a little cry – I might not have known her personally but I felt like I’d lost a friend all the same. I actually first heard about it while I was at work. I excused myself and sat in the loo for like 10 minutes. Cancer had stolen someone I knew and cared for.
Before she passed away John and her had a conversation about celebrating birthdays. Yesterday on John’s blog he posted this:
When I told Esther we wanted to celebrate her birthday as long as there were vlogbrothers videos, and that videos on that day could be about whatever she wanted them to be about, she waited a couple weeks before getting back to me. She finally decided she wanted it to be a day that celebrated love in families and among friends. I think of Esther Day as a kind of Valentine’s Day for all the other kinds of love.
There is also an explaination here: (source)
“Esther Day is the day where we think ‘who do i love who i have trouble saying I love you to’. Not some romantic interest, that’s just using Esther Day as an excuse to tell someone you love them, that you already want to tell them… no. I mean family, or platonic friends, which for me is even harder than family.” – John Green
So that’s what I’m doing. I messaged three of my friends from Uni on FB – I explained who Esther was and why I was doing it. I even started my email with something like “I understand this seems nuts but this is why I’m doing it…..”
Cancer sucks. It really really does. One of my friends from my old church (that I grew up in as a kid) lost his battle while cancer earlier this year. As I grow up and get older the number of people who have lost their battle that I know keeps growing but at the same time there are more and more kicking cancer in the butt and getting better. My Little Sister’s Mum had cancer, the first year that she had the all clear me and Mum did Race for Life as a celebration of that. Each year since we’ve taken part in Race for Life. This year we did it memory of our friend who lost his battle.
Life is so short and can be taken away so quickly. I mentioned both the shooting in Colorado and the shooting in Norway last year in my email to my friends, as soon as I heard the news about Norway I emailed my Mum and Dad. I had to tell them both how much I loved them and how grateful I was for all that they do for me, Chris and now for Our Sidekick.
Whether it’s a letter, text or phone call, don’t go to bed tonight without telling somehow you feel. Tell your friends how important they are to you and how much you need them in your life. Think of it as Valentine’s but for the love between friends.
There a bunch of posts appearing all over the internet today to celebrate Esther Day. Please take a read at a few of them – first up is Miss Zoot and Yummy Sushi Pajamas. (I’ll be back with more as I find them!)
You can read about Esther Day here. You can read some more about Esther here. (You can support This Star Won’t Go Out, the organization founded in Esther’s memory that helps families of children with cancer, directly here or by buying a TSWGO wristband.) The photo of John and Esther is from here. The giraffe image is from here.