Christmas Eve

April 15, 2009
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My fingers were cold.
I was sick of sitting, waiting.
Every breath I took, hurt.
Seconds ticked on the clock.
Hours flew by.
The big hand went round seven times.
I counted.

A tall man, my dad’s age,
Walked in.
Budding? Bert and Jolanda?
My parent’s names.
I’d heard them so often before.
But never like that.
A husky tone.
One resembling order.
Your son, he made it.

For the first time in seven hours,
I took a breath.
My heart pounded,
Like the fingers of a pianist,
Playing the opening entry
Of Handel’s famous coronation
The King Shall Rejoice.
My chest pumped up and down,
As my family jumped up.
And for the first time
Since my brother went into surgery,
We all took a breath.

The call had come the night before.
The phone rang
Like a siren in the dead of night.
I don’t remember the details,
But I clearly understood the well-known quote:
Life can change in a heartbeat.
I’d warned him before he left—
Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
It was the way we said goodbye.
The next time I saw him,
Was moments before surgery.

I was the last to see him.
He couldn’t see me.
His eyes swollen.
He could hear me.
I inched closer,
Leaning over his skeletal bed frame.
Peering at him
Between snake-like wires
And bear-like machines,
Keeping him alive.
I remember his exact words.
Not such a cool Christmas present,
Sorry, Sis!
A tear rolled down my cheek,
Onto my lip.
I tasted salt as I spoke these words:
I love you.

Nothing hurts more,
Than losing a child.
My parents almost lost
Their first born son.
It’ll never be understood,
Why he’s still here.
We thought a life would be lost.
Gone. Done.
Instead, we were given hope.
A chance.
A new beginning.
God reached down,
And chose to bless us.

Wounds heal,
But the scars will always be there.
Scars on neck, hip.
Scars on hearts.
Scars to remind us—
Life is short.
Cherish it.
Remember to believe.
All things are possible
Through Christ alone.

We spent Christmas Eve
The smell of disinfectant.
The taste of stale spit.
The sight of white sheets.
But we were together.
Neck brace, smiles,
Tears of joy.
On Christmas Eve.

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