Out of the Darkness

9 May

isa and me in hospitalThis morning, I was interviewed on K-Lite Radio for Santa Barbara’s Cottage Children’s Hospital. To most people, I’m sure it was no big deal, just a mother talking about her young daughter’s cancer experience to encourage listeners to donate to the local hospital where she was treated and cured.

And it really wasn’t a big deal, except that it was. Because, almost six years later, after my life has spun itself into a comfortable pattern of normalcy, I’m compelled to remember those dark days by once again sharing my story with others.

Over the past few years I’ve become quite adept at weaving those painful memories into the back of my mind like a skilled seamstress who has managed to hide that dark strand of yarn underneath the clean white stitches. But by reliving those frightening first days in the hospital, I’m obliged to unravel the memories and bring them back to the surface again.

I’m wise enough now to realize those memories are a gift; the surgeries and the blood transfusions; the unimaginable pain of witnessing a two year old suffer through chemotherapy treatments; watching Isa lose her hair until there was nothing left but a smooth dome of skin; seeing her belly bloat from the steroids; waking up in the middle of the night to touch her puffy cheeks to check for a fever; the overwhelming feeling of fear in my stomach that never went away; and all the while wondering if my baby was going to die.

Because if I don’t remember, I will return to the way I was before Isa got sick, when life was not as miraculous as it is today. These memories remind that I have to let go of what is not important.  I have to be thankful that my little girl is healthy and beautiful and that she is still here with me. I have to remember that what I have right now in this very moment is enough, and that my gratitude has the power to disentangle those little worries that I so expertly knit together into a tangled ball of dissatisfaction.

I have to remember the joy of coming out of the darkness and into the light.

Happy and healthy at eight years old.

Happy and healthy at eight years old.

7 Responses to “Out of the Darkness”

  1. Kelly Garriott Waite (@kgwaite) May 9, 2013 at 11:13 am #


  2. Elisabeth Kinsey May 9, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Wow, you’re so lucky to have her and you know it. So inspirational.

  3. Maria Zate May 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Thank you Jessica for sharing your story on the radio today! You and Isa are an inspiration to all. And please keep on blogging — your writing is amazing.

  4. injaynesworld May 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm #

    So beautifully expressed, Jessica. ” …and that my gratitude has the power to disentangle those little worries that I so expertly knit together into a tangled ball of dissatisfaction.” Yes! Isa didn’t come to you by accident. She’s clearly here as a teacher with much to give to the world, as are you.

  5. Sharon May 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    I am so happy for Jessica! She is a beautiful little girl with a very loving Mommy!

  6. Mel May 9, 2013 at 7:35 pm #


  7. Melanie Jacobson May 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Ditto to all the comments above. What sweet and beautiful photographs too.

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