Summer officially began yesterday, as the Summer Solstice marked the longest day in 2016. In 2011, The Summer Solstice was on June 21st – 5 years ago today. That day was the longest day of 2011, but for a different reason to me. That was the day that my daughter had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her eyelid. We spend that day nervously wondering, Would she be ok? Did melanoma spread beyond her eyelid into her body? Would she be scarred physically or emotionally? Would everything go alright in her surgery? What would the recovery process be like? Would life ever be the same again?
The answer to the last question was “No, life would never be the same for her or for us.” That long day in 2011 was tough, but she and we survived it as well as many difficult and long days that followed. All the other questions, fortunately, turned out to have good answers too. The cancer had not spread. She came through surgery just fine. The recovery process was painful and stressful, but successful. Subsequent surgeries repaired her eyelid and the scarring is now minimal, even beautiful. That day and that summer, she endured more than any 7-year-old child should have to, but luckily she survived.
Five years later, I still can feel that fear I felt waiting for her to come out of surgery. I can still remember, with vivid detail, wrestling with the prospect of any number of horrible outcomes. More importantly, I can remember the joy I felt when we brought her home that evening, knowing my baby girl was ok. While a part of me wants to forget it ever happened, the wiser part of me knows that it’s more useful, more beneficial, more important that I never, ever forget it. That I never forget what’s most important in life – the family I so deeply love – and that I never squander my time with them.
I remember that day like it was yesterday, the first day of summer. In 2011 it was the longest day of the year. 5 years later in 2016, June 21st, once the longest day of the year is now the better described as the brightest. It’s a day for reflection, gratitude, and love; one with a lot of daylight for us to play, laugh, love and celebrate the simple beauty of family and of life.
Thank you to those who cared for Ella that day and for those who have shown so much love and compassion to her and to my family throughout our journey. May your days be long and filled with love and joy.