End of Summer
From my window, I watch people jogging, walking, and rollerblading along the Esplanade, an urban park with meandering pathways that follows the Charles River. Sailboats sweep across the sunlit, shimmering waters in a carefree way. It’s Labor Day weekend, and it seems as though everyone in Boston is outside enjoying the last days of summer.
The view from this high-rise on the eighteen floor is as lovely as one would be from a luxury hotel, but this is about as far away from a relaxing retreat as I could be. My thirteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, is receiving her first round of chemotherapy at MassGeneral Hospital for Children. To our horror, five days ago she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that afflicts only 1 out of 250,000 children each year. My once-active, athletic daughter lies still in her hospital bed. Her toy dog “Mutsy” is tucked under her arm and her favorite purple fleece blanket is draped over her to shield her body from the cold air pouring out from the air ducts above. Outside, many runners are shirtless.
Elizabeth, her fourteen-year-old sister, Alex, and I should be shopping for back-to-school clothes and swimming at the town pool before it closes for the season. And yet, despite watching the drip, drip, drip of the chemotherapy fluid flow into her central line, I can’t believe what’s happening. I wrestle between wanting to run out of the hospital screaming and curling up in a ball on this vinyl chair, closing my eyes, waking up later to find out this has only been a nightmare. I do neither. I reach out and hold Elizabeth’s hand. She opens her almond-shaped, hazel-colored eyes, and smiles at me. Her wordless gaze says, “I’m going to be okay, Mommy.”
Life as I once knew it, the future I had hoped for and had even taken for granted, has imploded. All I know is that what lies ahead will require strength, courage, and wisdom beyond what I ever could have imagined.