My Birthday

Bella Simons, Staff

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I’ve always loved the month of April. It’s a time for flowers, spring break, and my birthday. When I was younger, my mom would always make them so special. I remember one of my favorite birthdays was when I turned seven. I went to school and the air was filled with a kind of magic I could never describe with words. My classmates wished me a happy birthday, and then we started learning typical second-grade stuff like vocabulary, learning how to add and subtract, and also writing stories. Around 11:30, we went to lunch. After a semi-decent meal of mac and cheese and cornbread, we all went back to the classroom. When I went inside, I smiled wide–my mom had snuck into the classroom, decorated it with streamers, put an Easter basket on my desk, and was now holding an assortment of cupcakes in her hand. I was so happy. I ran up to her and hugged her. At that point in my life, I had never felt more special.  

That was a wonderful birthday memory, but it was not my only surprise in life. During my sophomore year of high school, after going through a lot medically, I was back in school for only half-days. It had been a tough year, with brain surgery, radiation treatment in Chicago, and just the newness of my diagnosis. Brain tumors are not easy foes, yet I had defeated them. My family had supported me through it all. I recall being on my way to AP European History class when the weirdest thing happened: the lights were off in the classroom. I was surprised at the darkness; it was eleven right? Curiously I walked in when suddenly my whole class yelled, “Surprise!” I smiled, looking at the balloons, presents, and excitement in my classmates’ faces.  “What is this?” I asked happily. “Well…,” said my mom as she appeared from behind my teacher, “we know you’ve been through a lot this year, and it was your teacher’s idea to surprise you.” I was thrilled. My fellow friends showered me with presents as I thanked them all. I knew this would be a birthday to remember. After all the hoopla, I came up to my mom and told her “thank you. This meant so much. This was the best sixteenth birthday.” She hugged me and kissed me on the forehead. “You’re welcome.”

Little did I know that that would not be my last surprise. In 2017, I had a stroke during a college interview. About a month later, I had brain surgery to prevent strokes, during which I had another stroke. Ironic, right? For the two weeks after the surgery I learned how to walk, talk and write again. It was really hard on my family and I. That April, my mom started asking me what I’d like to receive as a present and who my closest friends were. I knew what was coming:  another surprise. On the Friday before my birthday, I went into third period slowly, wondering about my surprise. Nothing happened, there were just normal kids studying and chatting. I went to lunch, searching for some kind of surprise, but none was there. Finally, I went to my last class, meandering in at a slow pace. Oddly enough there were pink streamers on the ceiling. When I asked about them, my teacher said they were for a baby shower after school. “Oh, cool,” I replied, as my smile disappeared. ‘Could it be possible there was no surprise?’ I wondered to myself as the teacher began her lesson on Congress and their responsibilities. About halfway through the class, the teacher said, “well, pop quiz time!” The class groaned. “What, does that not sound fun?”  Everybody shook their head no. “Well, why don’t we instead celebrate a very special student: Miss Bella Simons!” My mouth opened in shock as my closest friends, two strangers and mother came in the classroom with a ton of balloons for my eighteenth birthday. “You guys!” I exclaimed.

Then a very special person made an appearance. “Hi, I’m Paula, and I run a charity called Maddie’s Smiles. We try to make sick children smile in whatever way we can!” I gave her a hug and with tears in my eyes, said, “thank you so much!” For the rest of class we ate cake, talked, and just spent time together. I opened gifts and gave out hugs to everyone, and at the end of class, I was so very happy. The next day, my birthday, I learned that was not the only component of the surprise. Around four o’clock my mother got me, saying “time to get dressed!” I asked, “for what?” She replied,  “You’ll see.” I put on a dress and flats, when a limo containing my two best friends, Sophia and Abigail, pulled up to the house. “What is going on?” I asked, smiling. “Just get in the limo, Sweetie,” my mom replied. I got in along with her and greeted my friends.

“This is so cool!” Sophia said.

“I know!  Do you have any idea what’s going on?”

“We have no idea.  But I’m excited!” Abigail said.

“Me too!” I agreed.

We pulled up to PF Changs in downtown Indy, my favorite restaurant. Our table had balloons on it and confetti. We sat down and ordered tea, potstickers and our meals. The food was delicious and we talked the whole time. When we went to get the bill, the waiter said it was already taken care of. We grinned at each other, all thinking this was the best night ever. After we finished dinner we walked the Circle Center Mall and saw a movie together. It was a wonderful night! After that we went outside, where a horse-drawn carriage awaited us. “Is this for us?” I gasped. “Yes it is,” my mom said. We got into the carriage and went for a beautiful ride around downtown. It was a spectacular night with my friends and my mom, and at that moment, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.  

When we got into the limo to go back home, I was shocked: it was filled with gifts from my favorite stores from the Fashion Square Mall! There were gifts from Pandora, Bath and Body Works and Pink! I was so excited! When I got home and said goodbye to my friends, I hugged my mom. “This was by far the best birthday ever!” It was an extraordinary day full of friendship, love and a whole lotta cake. I knew this was a day I would never forget.  

If you know a child in your life that has gone through a lot, consider donating to to this incredible cause. It made such a huge impact on me and I think it would be a wonderful idea for people to follow also. This is this link right here:  http://www.maddiesmiles.com/get-involved