It’s the 24th of December and it’s also day 24 of us being in the hospital. For those of you who don’t know, my 42-year-old husband had a massive stroke the night of Dec 1st while we were on a weekend trip to CA. And almost a month later, we are still here.
I spent Christmas Eve at this very hospital 19 years ago, hearing my mom’s voice and seeing her face for the last time. It’s not my favorite place.
It’s also a very old, mostly vacant, fairly dreary hospital that has actually already been sold to create apartments and shopping for downtown Escondido. Needless to say, it is not the ideal place to spend Christmas. One of our kid meltdowns so far included a crying 7-year-old, singing “there’s no place like home for the holidays” while curled up on the air mattress she’s been sleeping on for weeks. We are a pretty adaptable family at this point, but sheesh.
We were hoping for a “pass” to get Brian out for a few hours to come back to my dad’s on Christmas so we could have some semblance of normal, but doing that could jeopardize insurance coverage for the additional week here that we need. Because if he’s ready to come home, then he’s ready to come home. Right? So we are spending Christmas here. On the 9th floor.
The 9th floor is not really used anymore (read: creepy long hallways and empty rooms) so they gave us some space up there to use however we’d like to on Christmas Day. This morning some devoted elf friends decorated it and moved out some weird equipment and made it cheerful and lovely. And Sawyer is getting a skateboard for Christmas so he will have plenty of space to cruise the halls and plenty of nurses downstairs if he crashes. The kids are excited now that they have a vision and a certainty that we get to be together- even if it’s in a weird room with a VHS player and a commode.
Tonight we will make some gingerbread houses with dad, eat some take out, open our Christmas eve present and take some time to celebrate my mom. And rather than focus on being in this hospital on this anniversary with yet another Christmas tainted with loss, I’m going to celebrate who she was in life. Vibrant and brave, willing to face whatever came her way with grace and hope. She continues to lead me in how to do hard stuff well and I miss her fiercely. Especially today.
Tomorrow morning we will lug all the gifts and cheer we can muster and make a very memorable Christmas happen. Celebrating the incredible progress Brian has made, the precious family we get to be with and the savior that came for us. It sure sheds light on the non-fancy and the non-ideal way that Jesus came into this world. He just came, no matter what was ready or what was going on and it changed everything. Sometimes when things get stripped away, it’s easier to see the birth of Jesus with clarity. God breaking through to his people. Incredible.