I’m here. Yost Park. This is where I come to dream. I sit still in my car, sip on my local latte from Ladro and search for the sky past the tops of the swaying evergreens. When I spot the greyish-blue skies peeking through the tops of bristles, I ask the heavens above, “Please allow our little family to call Edmonds home. Please let this be home.”
Kevin and I had been working really hard for six months, trying to find a house for our family. Each morning, after eating Cheerios and brushing our teeth, my little 2-year-old Ahzi and I would pack up our car and drive neighborhood to neighborhood, and check out listing after listing while daddy was at work. We knew the market was competitive but had no idea it would take this long. And no matter what — it just didn’t seem to work out and we couldn’t exactly figure out why.
We then found out I have a late-stage genetic cancer — the same cancer that took my mom’s life way too young. It’s stage 4 and has spread from my lungs to my brain and bones. At 37 years old. With a 2-year-old. A loving husband and boxes filled to the brim with our future dreams just waiting to find a house to gently unpack them in.
So now what? Do we stay in an apartment? Does this house dream stop all together? Do we continue to take steps toward life after being told death is knocking? I turn to my dad. He has experience in dreaming. He came to this country with nothing, and built a beautiful life from sheer hard work, education and his infectious zest for making his dreams happen. What would he say?
It was immediate. “Jennie, you buy a house. If only for a day, this home makes you happy Jenniejoon (in our Persian culture, it is a term of endearment to add “joon” to the end of a name). I want you to be happy. You are my whole world. I never want you to stop dreaming. Ever.”
“But dad, what if…”
“What if what?” he replied. “We are going to do everything we can to keep you here. To keep you alive. To enjoy your sweet little Ahzi and watch her turn 3. Watch her graduate from high school one day. That’s our goal. To continue to love your wonderful husband, Kevin. This home represents life for you. I know that. I won’t let you die in an apartment. But I need you to fight Jenniejoon.”
From that moment on, my baba (dad) did everything he could to help us purchase our home. Here. In Edmonds.
Once we put our offer in, things moved very quickly. We had an unheard of two-week close! I remember being curled up in the very last item of furniture we had in our apartment, watching our friends take down the last of our belongings to the truck as the rain plummeted down on them. I sat there sicker than I’d ever been, yet never more thankful that we were on our way home.
Our friends had come to take us home.
We closed on Dec. 5. My birthday was on the 9th. We’d be here for my birthday. We would spend Christmas here. Christmas! The owner of the home really wanted to make a special trip to the house after it closed to explain some things that he thought may be of importance to us. Some logistical items. We agreed.
When he arrived at the door, our daughter Ahzi excitedly clickety-clacked her way to the front door in her ill-fitting princess heels, perfectly fitted bejeweled crown and her enthusiastic heart for what we all felt was a fairy-tale occasion.
“Mommy! Mommy!” Ahzi exclaimed. “I will show him my princess dress and my new princess room! Princess Ahzi is so excited, mommy and daddy!”
“I am too, Ahzi,” I replied. “Daddy is too! Wheeeee!” We whirled around squealing, which allowed us one last good mommy- daughter squeeze before answering the door.
The door opened and Ahzi’s tiny hand immediately scooped up the seller’s large hand in hers.
“Want to see my new room?” she asked. “Come with me. Check it out. This is our new house. This is my new princess room!”
He obliged, as a single tear slowly trickled down his round weathered cheek. Kevin held me as I wept, listening to the joy in our daughter’s voice in this moment. This moment. Engraved in my heart. In the walls of our new home. This would be one of our first memories made here.
The gentleman proceeded to go room by room, sharing memories he had here with his mom and siblings — along with brief moments of “see this door here. It goes with this key.”
His tears continued as the tour did. This wasn’t really about logistics. It was about life. His life. And that of his mom and his family. And now he was handing us over the baton. You see, his mom battled this same battle I am now facing. He understood it well. “It was important to me, to our family, that our home go to a good family,” he said. “One who is going to love this home and living here. Like we did.” We promised him we would.
“We love our new home! Right, mommy and daddy? We love it,” Ahzi proclaimed as she smiled as big as those little baby teeth could. And as quickly as those princess feet could move, she danced the seller to our front door. His hand still in hers. And we’ve kept in touch ever since.
It’s been a year. I’m still alive. We are living here in the Yost Park neighborhood. And we are still dreaming. I’ve done a lot in this wonderful life I’ve been given — from managing special events at a luxury New York hotel to starting an allergy-friendly food company — but one of my unfulfilled passions is to become a published writer. As a new contributing writer to My Edmonds News, I want to share my journey with you.
We are all traveling our own journey. But some days, it might feel better knowing there is someone close. A neighbor. A friend. Someone who is giving every day everything that she’s got. Fighting for each breath. So she can see just one more smile on her sweet child’s face. So she can have one more close embrace with her loving husband. One more laugh with a dear friend. One more connection made with a stranger who becomes a friend. And one more glimpse of the orange sun setting over our peaceful Puget Sound at our beloved Brackett’s Landing.
Edmonds, thank you for having our little family. Thank you for allowing me to spend the rest of my life in a town that I love. I look forward to us getting to know one another. We just spent our first Halloween celebrating in downtown Edmonds! What a night it was for Alice, The Queen of Hearts and The Mad Hatter!
This will be a column about everyday life. Except, maybe it will be about what happens when life becomes extraordinary because instead of preparing for my death, I am pouring myself into my life. Against the odds.
— By Jennifer Sabounchi
Edmonds resident Jennifer Sabounchi has served as a special events manager for The Ritz-Carlton in New York, a private chef to families in and around Seattle, and founder of an allergy-friendly food company. Recently diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, Jenn’s new column — “Life, Thank You for Having Me” — provides an intimate portrait of her fight for her life. She also invites readers to get to know her and her family by visiting her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.sabounchi