The Worst Christmas Ever
It’s been nine years since the worst Christmas ever. It all started on a plane ride home with Hal. We had been to a business event and he coughed uncontrollably the whole trip.
“I think I have pneumonia,” he said. “I’m calling Dr. Watson tomorrow.”
What? Hal never goes to the doctor if he can help it, I thought. He must be really sick.
Sure enough, it was pneumonia. The doctor took an x-ray and sent him home to bed on antibiotics.
A couple of days later, two of the children had tonsillectomies for sleep apnea. I was driving them home, exhausted, when our youngest started coughing horribly. My stomach clinched; she had a heart condition, and a serious infection could be life-threatening. Could she have the same thing as Hal? I called our doctor right away and he said to bring her in as soon as I’d taken the other children home.
I was so thankful for teens at home to help out. This was too much. Especially at Christmas.
When I got to his office, our dear family doctor seemed uneasy, unlike himself. He examined our little girl and pronounced her safe. “Just a virus,” he assured me. “She’ll be okay.” Then he shut the door.
“We need to talk,” he said.
He searched for words. “Hal’s x-rays came back,” he said finally. “There’s a mass behind his breastbone. We need to find out what it is.”
I was stunned. I felt desperate. “What is it? Will he be okay?”
Dr. Watson called the hospital and insisted they stay over for an emergency CT scan. I quickly left to tell Hal and get him over there.
On the way home, I called a few friends to ask them to pray.
Hal and I got to the hospital and they took him right back. It was the end of the day on Friday. The technicians were staying late and wanted to go home. I walked out to the waiting room, prepared for an anxious wait. Instead, I saw my friends. When I called, they didn’t just pray—they came to pray with me. They brought me dinner. They wrapped me up in love. They sent pizza to our children at home.
Back at home, it was a long, worried weekend, taking care of two post-operative children and a sick husband. Results wouldn’t be in until Monday or later, and we were on pins and needles.
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Sunday evening, our doctor called and asked if he could come over to our house. That didn’t sound good. If it was bad news, we wanted to tell the children our own way. We offered to meet him at the office; his hands were shaking as he unlocked the door.
We sat down and waited. Stan seemed to struggle a moment for composure. I was so thankful we were alone, so thankful for his compassion and thoughtfulness. He took a breath and started.
“It think it’s lymphoma – cancer – and it’s spread.”
Read Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.
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