The before times…

June marks a significant date as it is the month that Isabella lost her fight to neuroblastoma. This year will be 5 years since we lost her to this horrible disease on June 28th, 2012. The Santos family has been through their ups and downs in dealing with losing a daughter, sister, granddaughter, great-granddaughter, niece and cousin. But as you have most likely noticed, they have persevered… and they lead the push to fight for kids with cancer in Isabella’s honor. This month we will be sharing both the happy and raw times as we celebrate Isabella’s spirt and the legacy she left behind.

Aunt Amy and Isabella

The before times…

“Newborn Isabella. That very first day. It’s one of the best memories for me. Rushing to the hospital to meet this tiny person who had, in a moment, made my sister a mother. The biggest eyes looking around with a puzzled expression, like a little old man who may have gotten off at the wrong stop. Tiny clenched fingers holding my own. Skin smelling that newborn smell and wrapped in that ubiquitous hospital blanket-the white one with the blue stripes, you know the one I mean. And me just holding her and marveling. My niece. My first niece. Erin is her mom. Forever, Erin is Mom to someone now. How crazy is that? Whispering in her ear that I loved her, how excited I was she was here at last, how much fun we would have together, how she was going to have so much fun with her cousins, when everyone grew a bit more, of course. It’s an ordinary moment. If we are lucky, we all have those moments-meeting the tiny people that first day. Whispering in their ear that they are loved and part of a family. Feeling that rush of emotion at the passage of time and that euphoria and that pure joy. It’s a feeling like no other. And I had that with Isabella. Holding her and marveling. She and I just looking at each other. Planning in my heart a lifetime of secrets and memories and adventures and stories and love together. I stayed in the hospital with them that night and loved waking to talk to Erin and listen to Isabella make those strange baby noises all night. Change her diaper. Hold her. Just let that joy, that happiness, for Isabella, for Erin, for the whole family, just soak right into my heart. I didn’t sleep much, but it was one of the best nights of my life.

At that point, I have to stop the memory sometimes. Because the sweetness is almost a pain. I don’t take that memory out to look at often. But I love memories like that one, of just the ordinary moments of the before times. Before cancer. Before ports and doctors and treatments. Before the Foundation. Before Isabella had to race for anything. When Isabella was just my amazingly gorgeous newborn niece and I was her joyful aunt. The pain of this memory is that I expected, holding my niece in the dark night of that hospital room, to have a million more ordinary moments with her. A lifetime of memories of shenanigans and secrets and stories and fights and drama and accomplishments to celebrate. Of Erin calling me and telling me what Isabella was up and me telling her about my girls. And that’s how it was going to go. But it didn’t. And so I tend to horde my memories of Isabella. My heart was ready for so many more than I have, so I guard the ones I have a little jealously. But I do want to share that one with you, that first night. Those whisper and her big eyes. Her warm body against my chest and all that joy.”  – Isabella’s Aunt Amy

We can accomplish so much more if we fight cancer together.  Learn more about donating to the Isabella Santos Foundation.