In the photo I selected to write about, presents and wrapping paper are strewn across the living room floor of the house we lived in at the time. A humidifier is visible amidst it all, placed on a mat in an attempt to protect the hardwood floor beneath the carpet. I remember that it was cranked to the highest setting, and was kicking out so much mist that it was soaking everything around it.
X-rays and test results were as scary as his symptoms. The ER physician was gravely worried, and my son was admitted to the hospital for treatment. It was December 23rd, 1999; a very long night for all of us.
Fortunately, our son improved significantly overnight, and he was discharged late afternoon on Christmas Eve. Driving home, my mind began to shift to more than just my son's health, for the first time in nearly 24 hours. I panicked when I realized that none of the presents for him or our 5-year old daughter had yet been wrapped.
My husband's parents had already arrived to spend Christmas with us; our daughter had stayed home with them while we were at the hospital. They entertained her and helped watch over both kids while my husband put toys together and I threw wrapping paper on the gifts!
The photo I am writing about was taken the next day, on Christmas morning.
- My son, still pretty wiped out, was coughing, short-of-breath, and not exhibiting even close to his normal level of energy and enthusiasm while opening his gifts. He looks pretty sedate in the photo!
- My father-in-law is gazing tenderly at my son. He undoubtably could relate to his grandson's discomfort better than anyone else in the room, having recently undergone chemotherapy himself.
- My mother-in-law's smile exemplifies her perpetual delight in her grandchildren. She kept her worried little granddaughter busy and happy, even taking her sledding during our hospital stay.
- My husband's posture, though barely visible at the left corner of the photo, exudes weariness. A sleepless night in the hospital had been followed by a late evening, making sure all of Santa's work was done.
- My daughter appears to be watching her brother open a gift. I remember her alternating between being thrilled with the presents she was receiving and concerned by her brother's illness.
|The humidifier had everything a little damp, but it was better than Christmas in the hospital!|
Thankfully, my son recovered fully, and my father-in-law is cancer-free. The only remaining evidence of the uncertainty of that holiday is this photo. A reminder of our many blessings.
Have you ever heard the sound a child with croup makes when he/ she coughs?
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A version of this story was previously published by Yahoo Contributor Network, but it has been removed from the Internet and full rights to the story have been returned to me.