“We’ve scheduled your husband’s heart procedure for tomorrow. As soon as we complete his discharge papers, the ambulance will take him to Louisville. If all goes as planned, he should be transferred to the rehabilitation hospital the following day.”
Although Christmas was only four days away, I embraced that incredible news. Our family had gone from the doctor saying, “We can’t ever say there’s no hope, but it doesn’t look good,” on December 10, 2009, to witnessing unbelievable recovery in the days that followed. A heart attack, stroke, fall resulting in a severe brain injury, and lack of oxygen from an extended period with no heart or lung function—any one of which can result in death. All together … death is almost guaranteed. Almost.
As soon as EMS loaded him for the hospital transfer, I made a beeline home to pack essentials for the next few weeks. I also grabbed a small crocheted Christmas tree and a miniature nativity scene. The next day’s surgery went well, so we prepared for our final transfer. Since the rehabilitation hospital had extra bed space during the holidays, they agreed for me to stay in the room with my husband.
Visitors came and went, but we also had several hours of solitude. During that time, I found myself gazing at our tiny tree and nativity scene and contemplating anew the significance of Christmas. I gained a greater appreciation for Mary and Joseph’s predicament that first Christmas night as well. Far from home, they faced their medical dilemma and unknown future alone—in a shelter intended for livestock. Sure, they had visitors after Jesus’ birth, but those men were strangers, not the people they knew and loved. And I could not imagine how intimidated they must have felt with the unparalleled task that lay before them and their newborn son.
So I gave thanks. Thanks that we were together. Thanks that we had abundant medical and emotional support. Thanks for a warm, comfortable place to stay until we could return home. Greater still, thanks that because of God’s Presence to earth that night so long ago we would never have to face the future alone.
Regardless of the season or circumstances, embrace the promise of God’s Christmas Presence.
(Photo courtesy of morguefile and click.)
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