Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June Transitions

June is a complicated month for me.

In my younger life, June meant the end of the school year, lazy warm days in the backyard, staying up late, and summer enrichment programs. Later, the month became an end to classes, the beginning of summer jobs and internships, graduations. Now June is the month of my wedding anniversary and my son's birthday (16 years old today!)

But for me June is also flavored with wistfulness, a feeling of letting go, of leaving something behind.

Since being hired in a public school system 10 years ago, I often mark my life by school year, rather than calendar year. September is the time for New Year's resolutions, when we start fresh. June is for good-byes - to high school seniors, to my fifth-grade students who start middle school next year, to retiring colleagues.

This June, I feel like I am also leaving behind the trials of this year.

 Last June I attended a friend's wedding, a beautiful affair held lakeside on a sparkling early summer day. It was a happy, joyous, carefree day, one of the last ones I would have that summer. Weeks later I was going through tests and biopsies that resulted in a diagnosis of breast cancer.

My school year was interrupted for six weeks while I recovered from a bilateral mastectomy. The winter and spring were filled with doctor appointments and eventually more surgery to reconstruct my breasts. Today, I'm looking forward to several months of no doctor appointments and no procedures.

This June, I can see how far I've come. I look back on the dark days of fall and winter and wonder how I made it through.  I feel better today - despite everything I've endured - than I have in years. It makes me wonder if I was sicker for longer than I thought. I know how strong I am - I came through a physical and emotional battering. Once you have breast cancer, other stuff looks pretty small.

I have left behind my old self, but it feels more like a butterfly leaving behind a cocoon. This June, I am healed.

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