Way to early for a Christmas morning but Jak, the Jack Russell Terrorist had to go out NOW at 5am…Think he has a bit of a bug or something.. So after wandering around the backyard for 15 minutes before he found the ‘spot’ to go, I was wide awake and knew it would be pointless to return to bed…
As I sit here meandering through the web in a quiet house a began to think about Christmas and it’s true meaning.
The birth of our Savior, Jesus.
And Christmas of 2004 popped into my head.
Was both the worse and best Christmas ever for our family. That August my wife had her annual checkup and the bad news we delivered. Breast cancer.
Was devastating to us. Our boys at the time were 12 and 9 years old. We had recently joined a new church, Rejoice! of Northfield, which turned out to be a blessing as the Pastors and members immediately rallied around us as did my co-workers and our friends.
This was on the heels of losing my sister, the eldest of my 3 younger sisters to cancer in 2003. So with that fresh on our minds we all were pretty scared.
As my wife progressed through surgeries, the first being a lumpectomy for what they believed was DCIS, it was found the margins were were not ‘clean’. She had another and it was discovered she had another tumor in the breast that was also cancerous, a radical mastectomy was preformed.
Then chemo, months of chemo, gawdawful chemo.
She obviously was unable to work and her employers, the School District and Nursing home, were very good about giving her off what she needed and my coworkers with the Ambulance willingly took my shifts for me whenever I needed to be home with here. Our eldest withdrew into himself and refused to talk about it and our youngest began to have a host of issues, migraines, intestinal problems constant MD visits and a few ER visits trying to figure out what was wrong.
As we progressed towards Christmas, we knew with the loss of wages, both jobs were part time for her, so not sick or vacation time. Money became tighter and tighter, my insurance paid the medical bill, hate to think what it would be like today with ObamaScare but things were getting tight.
One night we discussed Christmas and determined it was not going to be filled with joy or presents..And we explained such to the boys, whom understood and accepted it.
But I didn’t, made me angry, at the cancer for what it was doing.
Our church family was so supportive, meals brought over, members helping with getting the boys to and fro and being at our house for them when they came home from school and we were at an appointment or chemo treatment. My youngest son’s guitar teacher was there for him each and every lesson plus more.
As Christmas approached one of my partners at worked asked me about Christmas and I told her the truth. We weren’t really going to have one at home.
As Christmas Day slowly crept closer things were quiet and somber, we did pick up a few gifts. Then one evening the doorbell rang and it was two of my co-workers, Ann a paramedic and Theresa a nurse from the ER. They came bearing gifts, in the form of gift cards and cash. Around 400.00 dollars worth if I remember right.
My wife and I were overwhelmed.
It is hard to describe what went through our minds and the happiness we felt that maybe, just maybe this Christmas would not be so bleak!!
So we went shopping. spending little on each other, but lots on the boys.
One evening at the local Target we ran into a couple we had met through Youth Baseball, the Dad and I had been co coaching for a couple of years together. They had a cart full of ‘stuff’, were happy to see us. We chatted a bit and headed home.
Shortly after we got home the doorbell rang. It was them and the cart full of stuff was for the boys…
Christmas arrived and we spent Christmas Eve with wife’s family. Was good. As had been the celebration with my family. Wife was tired and not feeling so good from the chemo, but happy.
Christmas Day at home was wonderful. The boys opened their presents with wide eyes and wondering how we pulled this off. But we smiled and told them Santa Claus must have felt they had been really good that years…
They gave us the ‘look’, the ‘come on Mom and Dad we know better!!’
But it was all good and we were ‘blessed’ that Christmas, by friends, family and folks we did not even know. We were gifted gift certificates to go out and eat and folks made sure wife and I had time for each other, kidnapping the boys and chasing us away.. Christmas 2004.
One we’ll never forget..
And my wife has been a survivor, cancer free for ten years!!!