(This blog tells my family's story. To see more, click "blog" at the top of this webpage.)
When snow started to fall in Ohio, I pulled my sewing bag out of the closet. I made my favorite peace doves out of felt with embroidered accents and lacy wings for Laraine, Jill, and the other therapists at Green Springs, part of our extended family.
I loved how they loved Beth.
I mailed Christmas cards decorated with doves, wishing for peace. For the world, for our country, and for me.
John drove with Beth, Maria, and me to Toledo for the holiday party of the spinal cord injury group. Talking to other parents, I could answer the sad question of who was to blame for the car accident that injured Beth, and without crying. Progress of sorts after a year and a half. Though my guilt was still alive and well, and I quickly steered conversations away from the accident. I talked to other quads, some with serious health issues that increased my sense of foreboding. I wanted to be positive and optimistic, but I couldn’t find the way.
John was in his element. He started conversations and listened to the journeys that others had traveled—and shared our family’s story. We teased him that everyone in Ohio knew about Beth’s injury.
John often said that everyone has a story.
Maria and Beth sat at the cool kids table with the teenagers while the younger children watched them. I heard part of a conversation about the first Harry Potter movie, The Philosopher’s Stone, in theaters since before Thanksgiving. Most of the teenagers had seen it more than once, including my girls.
After our goodbyes at the party, I was relieved when Beth dosed off in the car, avoiding her anxiety about driving in the dark. Her worries were specific and situational, such as tornado warnings and the low gas indicator in the car.
Maria already had a driver’s license, so one clear Saturday afternoon, my girls went shopping at the Findlay mall. On the way home, Beth noticed the low gas indicator turn on as they entered a fifteen-minute stretch with no gas stations. She wanted to turn around and go back to the closest station. Maria tried to reason with her, unsuccessfully, and they both arrived home frustrated. Thankfully, the conflict was soon forgotten.
It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas—as it had been before the accident.
It was easier to hold brief conversations with other parents after the holiday choir concert, always a lovely highlight of the season for me. When my kids were little, we read about Christmas traditions and their origins. Favorite songs, decorating the house and tree, making special food and cookies, playing card games, watching movies with popcorn, wrapping gifts, and making new memories to add to many lovely ones at my family's farmhouse. Sitting around the big dining room table at the farmhouse, I missed my grandma and grandpa, reminded how life can change in a moment. All the more reason to hug loved ones close.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Sign up for my Just Keep Swimming Newsletter by typing your email address in the box. Thanks!