A year ago, in the wee hours of Christmas Eve, I stared out over the city of Seattle from a hospital room. I counted three construction cranes strung with Christmas lights and vaguely wondered about decorating them, especially the one raising a Christmas tree high into the sky. In the distance the top of a building glowed red and green, and only rarely did a car interrupt the barren streets below me. The lonely starkness of the roads made me uncomfortable.
Behind me, dad had fallen into a fitful sort of sleep, but the long hours of the night had taught me he would find little rest. Just minutes earlier he had awoken, and in perhaps his most lucid moment of the night said, “Honey, I don’t know if I can get better this time.”
I perused Facebook for the 100th time. Pete and Sonya, friends from Tennessee, had just posted that they were already headed to grandma’s house. I checked the time, 3:30 a.m. PT but already 6:30 on the East Coast. I prayed they would arrive safely and have a good Christmas. I sincerely hoped they would; but for the first time in my life, I was facing a Christmas I did not expect to be fun.
As I stood there praying and pondering, peace flooded over me and a sense of gratefulness won out over the fear I had been stomping down all week. I did not know if dad would pull through this time; and if he didn’t, I knew I would grieve hard.
But I was so thankful for the years I’d had with my dad and for the gift of a stable home my parents had provided for me. I was fortunate and I knew it. God had given me a great dad. He and I had always shared a love for music, and I realized we had not even had a chance to sing Isaac Watts’ Cradle Hymn this year. That was our song, we’d been singing it together since I found it in an old book so many years earlier.
Waves of sadness began to roll over me. Don’t focus on what you’re missing this year, I told myself. Focus on all you’ve had for so many years. Forcibly, I began to count the reasons I should be thankful. At the top of the list was why Christmas is so special in the first place. Regardless of how today turned out, I knew I would never tell my dad goodbye for forever thanks to God's unspeakable gift - the gift of His Son Jesus.
On Christmas Day, the tide began to turn, and we could tell that dad was getting better. This year, I am so grateful that we will not be spending the holiday at the hospital and that I was given another year with my dad.
I am also grateful for the nurses, aids, and doctors who will continue their faithful vigil; and I thank them for the dedication that takes them away from their loved ones on this holiday to serve the suffering.
And now, well I think I’m going to drive out to my parents and sing a little Isaac Watts with my dad.