five minute friday: reflect.
“We write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt…
No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation.
Unscripted. Unedited. Real.”
This weeks prompt: reflect.
If I were to reflect on anything this week, it would be the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice annual lighting of the house. The hospice turns on over 60,000 lights and sets the home and grounds ablaze in early December.
We were there at the lighting this year. It was wickedly cold, but clear and crisp. Florence was bundled in layers of blankets, right up to her ears. She couldn’t see the lights from her flat stroller, and I found myself incredibly aggravated by this. I am so tired of her missing out.
There were other children and families there, donors and staff. Watered down hot chocolate warmed our numb fingers, as we waited for the countdown to begin. The president of Canuck Place started her speech, while we waited in the back, far from the crowds, near the carts bursting with donated poinsettias. She explained how the home has helped countless children over the years, and that the demand for Canuck Place was increasing drastically. I wondered what this meant—more children getting cancer, more diagnosis, more conditions? She went on to say that Christmas is a beautiful time of year for families and often very precious, for it may be the last Christmas for some children.
I stood there, with hot tears running down my face, trying my best to shrug off those words. Shock ran cold through my body. It feels impossible. Christmas, the holiday where we sing songs about Baby Jesus, and make wish lists, why must it hurt so much?
Because everyone is happy? It’s a season of cheer? The carols are desperately sentimental and remind us of our childhood? Oh, it hurts alright, for many families that have lost their children, their fathers, their grandmothers, their sisters.
Although we have not lost a child, I am stung on this holiday. It will be her second Christmas. It’s supposed to be the one where she throws little fits of glee, and rips apart the presents under the tree that aren’t hers, and smashes glass ornaments, and plays.
The president went on to tell a story about a boy who wanted one last wish at Canuck Place, for he was dying. It was July, and he wanted Christmas. So, they made it happen, and brought in decorations and a tree, and had Christmas in July for this precious one.
Again, I cried hard. Oh, how the weary world groans.
My heart, suddenly felt captured by this place, where every day is savoured and families are cherished, just the way they are. I’ve cried many times in that house: when a volunteer sang “Twinkle, twinkle little star” at the top of his lungs to a stunned but thrilled Florence; when a nurse introduced “craft time” with Florence and helped her make toys from pipe cleaners, feathers and tiny orange balloons; when another volunteer read to Florence for ages, one board book after the other, wiping the drool away from her chin and cheeks; when I came across a recreational therapist making beautiful moulds of a child’s hands and feet for the child was receiving end of life care in the home.
A mother never imagines her child will receive this kind of love and care from others. A mother never imagines she will accept it, tired and willing, arms open, sometimes even finding the strength to smile.