In the darkened and quiet hospital room…amongst the beeps and buzzes of machinery, she sleeps…sedated, occasionally rasping a request for water…

I keep vigil, waiting for her to return to us, fully and completely…I’m dazed…it all feels so unreal.  One moment, a healthy young girl is walking along a sidewalk, the next moment, a playful jump over a concrete planter, initiates a fall that results in a skull fracture, bleeding on both sides of her brain, a broken collar bone and what promises to be a long journey towards recovery…

Christmas at the hospital.  It is a sad, quiet place…but I’m thanking God for His mercy, for things could be so very much worse…

I thank Him for the little “warning” last night at midnight Mass…the gentle words that came in prayer before Mass, as I exulted in the “mountain top” feelings of grace that were raining down…a gentle voice, in the depths of my heart, reminded me:  “For every mountain top, there is a valley…”  I didn’t understand then, but I do now…

I thank Him for my precious priest…he, too, has suffered a fall…yet, he was so quick to offer prayer and support.  Meredith loves Father…and Father loves Meredith.  Two have fallen, two are healing…may God protect them from further ills!

I thank Him for precious friends, many of them, who quickly offered us vehicles (ours aren’t quite road worthy enough for an extended trip), child care, prayer, money for gas and expenses, filling goodie bags with snacks and water bottles…literally and figuratively raining down upon us “manna from heaven…”

I thank Him for my beautiful, older daughter who rushed to her sister’s side first, asking all the right questions, treating her so compassionately…having left her little son in the middle of a joyful Christmas morning…

I thank Him for my own sweet, young ones…so quick to say “Mommy…please…go to her…go now, go now!”  They give so much of their own joy away for the good of others…

I thank Him for my dear, oldest son…who quickly and confidently helped me pack and even accompanied me on the journey…insisting upon it, in fact.  The first fleeting smile that our Meredith gave was at the mention of her brother Zachary’s name.  She wanted her mommy…but she smiled for her brother…

I thank Him for this gift.  It truly is a hard one to unwrap.  I’m not sure how it will all work out, but I know the destination is grace…a journey towards heaven.

I thank Him that I’m here to love my girl.  To pray for her.  To stroke her hair, soothe her poor head…we’re spending Christmas together.  There’s no crib, no tree, just the colored lights on the monitors, and the cool beads of my new rosary, counting by decades towards the Cross.

I thank Him for the staff of the Neuroscience critical care ward.  For their kindness, solicitude and genuine caring.  They, too, are spending Christmas at the hospital…away from their families, offering themselves for those suffering.

I thank Him for every little sound she makes…for her anger and confusion in those brief, wakeful moments…she is conscious…breathing…living…and healing.

Merry Christmas, friends.  From a mom who’s keeping vigil, missing her hubby, home and children, but who is blessed with a heart full of hope and joy…may God bless, protect and give you peace!

Kimberly