I guess I didn't have any high expectations of the day, afterall, what can we do for such a short amount of time and a "sick" baby on Christmas day when nothing is open?
The night had been uneventful, just a few times rotating Manny. Then the staff helpers delivered a few toys in the middle of the night. Manny and Kaley opened the few gifts that were given to us by the hospital and we played with them. We did our normal routine of medicines, breathing treatments, etc.
My parents came to visit and brought breakfast.
About noon Dan showed up. I told Manny the plan was to go with Daddy and the kids, have some fun, and then back to the hospital. He immediately cried and said, "Home, no hostipal." I explained again. Same response.
My heart sank as I knew he'd have a blast and then feel crushed that he had to come back here and not stay with Daddy and the kids and go home. But we felt it was worth it anyway. So we went.
He was sooo excited to see the kids, get in his car seat. He was pointing out all the signs along the road. He was even like, "Cooool ... look at the cars". It's truly amazing what you SEE that you didn't see before.
We drove to this little "beach" along Tampa Bay just a few minutes from the hospital. The day was perfect. Sunny. 82 degrees. And we just started to walk. The kids have grown up in Florida and have saltwater in their veins practically. They love the adventure of turning over rocks and finding life, looking for crabs and other creatures. We skipped rocks into the bay.
A couple of times I mentioned to Manny that eventually we would have to go back to the hospital. Each time, his answer was the same, "No hostipal, home."
Eventually it was time to walk back. More adventures along the way. Piled into the car and headed to Burger King to get some ice cream. And we just hung out. Talked. Laughed. All the while realizing the clock was ticking.
|That was then (December 23, 1994... 2 days before we were married on the beach)|
|Happy 17th Anniversary! A perfect way to spend it ... on the beach.|
And then it was time.
I can't put into words why this is sooo hard.
I'm stuck between two worlds.
And I was dreading what I thought was coming from Manny.
Kaley, Manny and I walked to the front door of the hospital. I carried him and Kaley pushed his wheelchair. We turned around and waved good bye. "See you soon" I said in a chipper voice. Manny started to cry but didn't. Instead, he said, "See you soon, guys."
Up the elevator. Down the hall. Hi to all the nurses. Into our room. No tears.
I felt relief. I have no clue why he was OK with coming back here tonight, but he was. Perhaps that was God's gift of grace to me. We returned him to his hospital clothes, hooked him up to his meds and life resumed at the hospital.
Since he was good and settled, I went into the bathroom and had a good cry. I miss my family so much. I know how hard this is on them. I see it on their faces. They're trying to be brave and strong. I see it in the little details that only a mom notices. They lost sooooo much this past month. And they understand, they get to keep their brother. And they don't even resent him. They think he's worth it too. And I'm in awe of the sacrifice that my little people are willing/able to make at such a young age.
About this time, I get a call from Dan that Zoe is having a hard time. She's refusing to do something that was asked of her. (She has deep, deep "loss" issues and they often manifest in behaviors of defiance and/or anger.) So Dan called me to see if I could talk her down. I could hear her yelling. She got on the phone and I said, "What is going on?!" And she burst into tears, "I MISS YOU!!!" And we wept together. I can't tell you the guilt there is to have her in so much pain. So I put her together with a proverbial bandaid and hope that it will be enough.
I came out of the bathroom and Kaley could tell I'd been crying. She said, "Want to watch a movie with me?" (She NEVER does that.) And I said, "Honey, thanks for being a friend tonight. I'm feeling sad and what I need right now is a friend. Thanks for understanding that." And we watched a movie, ate popcorn and shared a coke. It was just what I needed.
So I started out by saying it was the perfect day. How could THIS be the perfect day? I tell you this: Any day that you get to wake up, get to spend time with those you love ... it's a perfect day. Most people do this every day and think NOTHING of it. But today, I am keenly aware of the amazing GIFT that this is. I got to have 6 hours with my family. And the coolest part? That was just a "down payment" ... I'll get to have them all the time again very soon.
What gifts did YOU receive today? They might not have come wrapped with a bow, but they were important. Make sure you didn't miss any.