Ten Junes

30 May


June is almost here and I’ve begun to feel it—that sense of giddy anticipation for the coming summer. All the signs are here—the misty fog banks that hug the coast, the scent of jasmine in the air when I open the front door; the ruffled towers of purple delphinium that sway in the offshore breezes that slip in off the Pacific.

Since I was a girl I’ve associated June with happy affairs—a long vacation from school, the prospect of lazy days spent at the beach, a new part time job—the thrill of a budding summer romance. June was always filled with a sense of endless possibility and hope.

Then in 2007, June turned on me. It became the month my daughter, Isa was diagnosed with leukemia.

Exactly ten years have passed since Isa’s diagnosis of cancer, when the perfect month of June lost its allure and became a time associated with doctors, nurses and hospitals; with antibiotic cocktails, blood transfusions and chemotherapy. When June became a time saturated with anxiety as my two year-old developed an angry rash all over her body and suddenly stopped eating because her mouth was filled with painful sores. June was raging fevers, sweat-soaked hospital sheets and sleepless nights. June was spending our twentieth wedding anniversary in an isolated hospital room watching our daughter suffer. June was thinking Isa could die.

isa bald

Isa  in the hospital on her third birthday.

But June turned out to be other things, as well. It was the wisdom of the doctors and the compassion of the nurses who held our hands, loved our daughter and reassured us that Isa would be all right. It was when our family, friends and community gave us their unconditional support through selfless acts of kindness—big and small. June was when we received that phone call from the doctor telling us that Isa had responded rapidly to the chemotherapy and was in remission.

Ten years.

In a few weeks, Isa will graduate from sixth grade. Like the jasmine that grows outside my front door, Isa has blossomed into a beautiful young girl—outgoing, smart, funny and most importantly, kind. Today she is considered cured and shows no residual effects from the chemotherapy.

As I stand on my front porch and look out at my garden, I realize the anxiety I carried for so long is gone. I am no longer afraid. Isa is still here with us and for this I am forever grateful. As summer stretches out before me, I feel only wonder for the possibility of what is to come.

June has come back to me.


Isa in a commercial for Santa Barbara Cottage Children’s Hospital


5 Responses to “Ten Junes”

  1. Eleanor Winters May 30, 2017 at 11:09 am #

    Lovely Jessica! This will indeed be a happy 30th anniversary for you and Rene In JUNE!

  2. Sharon May 30, 2017 at 11:51 am #

    Yay! Filled with thankfulness, joy and happiness for you and your beautiful family! ❤️

  3. Deborah May 30, 2017 at 12:25 pm #

    I saw the commercial. Beautifully done! It was a difficult time for you, but you, your daughter, and your family are stronger. You will always appreciate life so much more.
    It is 31 years since Sal’s first of three cancer diagnosis. August is our month of anxiety and now peace.

  4. Gabriela May 31, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

    I enjoy reading your post and admire your choice of words and comparisons.
    But this post just got a hold of me
    I could feel all emotions, present and past!!
    Happy Anniversaries
    From Poland

  5. Suzanne June 15, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    Lovely post to read, Jessica! Yes, saw the Cottage Hospital commercial and thought that was also your daughter! Very well done, very nice poise there!

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