Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Back to School - 2012

I remember when I was a kid, back to school day was always a dreadful day which meant the end of the carefree summer days.  No more playing outside until it was dark or staying up late.  It meant getting up early and doing homework.  For some odd reason, maybe it’s Julianne’s influence on them, but the kids actually have been looking forward to going back to school, which I guess is a good thing.  In Nathaniel’s case, he’s super excited since he’s starting kindergarten, so I’ll give him a pass this year. (Of course, it’s in the back of my mind that Isabella was diagnosed two months after she started kindergarten….)

So in recent years, back to school day has been a pretty exciting day in the Icatar household.  But this year, the day will be bittersweet.  Although Nathaniel’s enthusiasm and excitement over riding the bus for the first time will be unmatched, Isabella will not be able to join him or Annalise in going to school.

Isabella has been assigned a teacher, but she will probably never spend another day at school.  Oh she may get a visit to the classroom for a special day or two, but she won’t get to participate in class or socialize with her friends.

I was looking at pictures from the previous years’ back to schools, and just seeing the dramatic decline from last year is shocking.  Where last year Isabella was able to walk and talk (albeit with a little difficulty), this year Isabella can’t move any part of her body.  Isabella can also no longer eat on her own, so all of her nutrition is pushed through a tube that goes in her nose and into her stomach.  We haven’t heard her speak in months or smile or laugh in weeks.  Her only form of communication now is she will open her eyes a little wider to answer “yes” to a question, and even in recent days, sometimes she doesn’t answer.  At times, she still struggles to breathe, so we need to constantly reposition her and swab out the mucous in her mouth to make sure her airways are optimally cleared.

Yeah, this Fall is a lot different than the previous years.

Here are a couple pictures from some of the back to school days from better times.

IMG_0374Isabella gets on the bus for the first time to go to kindergarten!
IMG_0378Annalise walks Isabella into school for the first day!  This is one of our favorite pictures of all time.
IMG_0381Isabella gets ready to work on her first day in kindergarten.  We didn’t think much about her crooked smile at the time.
P1000516This is Isabella’s first day of school for first grade.  She had just completed an intensive course of radiation in Boston, which is why half of her hair is gone, and amazingly only missed the first couple days of school.
P1000519Annalise and Isabella look out of the school bus on their way to school.
P1030042Annalise, Isabella, and Nathaniel wait at the bus stop.  Isabella started second grade.  Note that even though he’s not going to school yet, Nathaniel insisted on wearing a backpack.
P1030315Isabella has a big smile for grandpa as they wait for the bus.
P1030318Isabella sits at the bus stop with mommy and grandpa.  Isabella’s classmate, Sebastian, and his sister sit next to them.  Sebastian died earlier this year after his own battle with cancer.
P1060111Isabella starts the third grade last year with her friend and aid Kim.
P1060113Isabella has a big smile for her third grade teacher.


  1. I could not get through this post without crying. I remember when we first met Isabella. She was this tough little pistol with attitude and beautiful long hair. She's still that tough girl fighting the big battle, only so war weary. I pray for strength for your family as you meet each day with the understanding that each day is a gift.


  2. Always, every day, sending prayers and love to dear Isabella and her beautiful family.

  3. My prayers and thoughts are with Isabella and your family every single day. I was able to say hi to Nathaniel while he was on the swings today smiling his energetic smile. I treasure the picture of Isabella with me on the first day of third grade last year!!
    Much love,

  4. Thinking of Isabella and your family.

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