Secret Christmas Present, Eh?
We’ve been prepping to leave for Canada on Christmas Day since like, September perhaps? Passports? Check! Hotel, airline tickets, rental car? Check! Healthy hockey player? CHECK! Healthy sister with an intact appendix? Um…please hold.
You should have seen this poor girl every time a doctor or nurse walked in and asked if she needed something; “Can I fly in two days?”
“Doubtful,” came the reply.
“We have a trip to my favorite place, am I going to be able to go?” she would ask.
“The day after tomorrow.”
“Um, let’s just take one step at a time,” they said, as they shook their head no at me.
One nurse even chuckled. “Silly girl, you're not going anywhere,” his chuckle said to her.
The night after surgery, she awoke at 4am and hit the call button. When the nurse walked in, she asked, “Can you ask if I can fly to Canada?”
Clearly, a girl can’t get on a plane if she can’t walk down a hallway without being hunched over with a pillow hugged into her gut protecting her innards from an attack as if she was an injured gazelle on the savannah.
So the sister and mama stayed home and the hockey player and his dad got on a plane after we finished our Christmas turkey and cranberry sauce to the land of poutine and maple syrup.
And guess what happened? We didn’t have time to focus on our disappointment. Because sometimes the best gifts come even after Christmas is over.
Hannah has the best friends. For years, I loved watching these kids from my classroom door at their high school care for one another, sometimes bicker with each other, struggle through relationships with each other, help each other cram for tests, cover up for one another when someone did something naughty, plan Homecoming hallways and mayhem, and generally grow up in front of my eyes. And these kids are the same kids, not really kids anymore, that showed up at the foot of my daughter’s hospital bed to make sure their friend was okay. With ice cream because she wasn’t eating enough of her liquid diet. I believe with all my heart that the love and care that Hannah felt from her family and friends healed her. Hannah had surgery one week ago. Seven days. And every one of those seven days someone was at our house making her laugh or hugging her. “Hand hugs only please” was her favorite comment, along with “Stop making me laugh, ouch.” Well, let’s be honest. The comment, “Is it time for more medicine?” was right up there too. These kids were so adamant about seeing her one day that they even broke into my house while we were making a Christmas present run and getting Hannah some fresh air, causing my parents to call and tell us something fishy was happening at the house. You guys can break into our house anytime! Not really.
And our blood family and not-blood family; I am reminded daily of the love you have for our children. You have raised our kids with Jeff and me. More than once, the nurses walked in to get Hannah’s vitals and there was no room for them to come in. Someone had to step out to make room. Thank you for the warm socks and warm food and warm arms that hugged. There was a moment when Hannah had a physical reaction to the internal fear she was experiencing and her hands and feet curled in and stuck. Her body felt cold and paralyzed and she was so scared. Our family stood outside the windows during her attack asking me with their eyes if she was okay. I felt the heat leave their bodies and surge into our room through the glass trying to warm her with their will. And that warmth seeped into her bones and through my skin too. This is the love that we often forget is right in front of us. It is unconditional, it never fails, and there are no strings attached.
All our love to Dr. Ekdawy. When Hannah found out she had to have surgery, she said, “Is Dr. Ekdawy here?”
Our sweet and brilliant Ben, who is being mentored by Dr. Ekdawy said, “He doesn’t do surgeries on Wednesdays.”
Guess who showed up at Hannah’s side within ten minutes of her asking for him? And guess who did her surgery two hours later on his non-surgery day?
My heart is exploding with gratefulness. I might need heart surgery to repair it.
A sincere thank you to the people in our life that stopped their Christmas preparations two days before the big day, that created time they didn’t have, that displayed their hearts to us. It mattered. It physically effected Hannah. Your kindness changed her molecules and cells and made them work harder. She healed faster because she was fueled by your kindness.
We miss our boys. We are rooting Ben on from our couch, wishing with every molecule that we were in the stands. But love doesn’t have boundaries and we are there in spirit with every puck hit and every power play. Go get ‘em Ben! We are watching on Periscope! And Jeff, you are my soulmate and when you're with our boy, I feel like I’m there too. I’m taking care of your girl. Thank you for your complete and unfailing commitment to our family. You are true love wrapped in skin.
Love is a beautiful gift. Love conquers fear. Love spans distance and time. Love heals.