The noises were all too familiar now, the carts whizzing by; the nurses scrambling to fulfill their shift. Megan slept right through them. In fact, that is pretty much all Megan did these days. Just then, some doctors walked by her room discussing some treatment, paying no mind to the hour of night or to the guests sleeping in the cookie-cutter rooms.
Megan’s mother stood to close the door that her husband had forgotten to shut in his hurry to get some much needed coffee before Megan awoke. Her reaction was too late. Megan stirred.
Her drug induced sleep stricken eyes looked for her family. “Mommy?”
Megan’s mom turned at her daughter’s tiny voice and retraced her footsteps back to the hospital chair which sat next to the bed cradling her most cherished gift.
“Yes, sweetie.” Megan’s mom hoped her voice sounded normal. Each time she looked at her daughter’s ill countenance her heart ripped just a little more.
“Are there presents in heaven?”
Megan’s mother’s smile peeked through her sorrow. Christmas was her seven year old’s favorite holiday. Some loud beeping echoed in the distant hallway but the young mother kept her concentration.
“I think heaven is the greatest present of all. It is a place where there is no more pain and suffering.” The mother realized what she had just said. Her stomach grew tight with the thought.
A contented sigh came from the frail body of the little girl. Her hair was completely gone now and her head was graced with a red cap that only made her skin appear grayer. The mother’s pain at this was palpable. Her baby was dying.
“Where’s daddy?” Megan asked, sleep crowding in again. The pain meds did that to her.
Good question, Megan’s mom thought but refrained from stating it. “He just went to get coffee. He’ll be right back.”
“What time is it,” another faint whisper asked.
The mother looked at the clock on the wall. “11:56.”
“It’s almost Christmas,” the little girl spoke with some excitement rising in her voice.
“Mommy,” the voice could barely be heard.
“Yes, sweetie.” The mother’s breathing quickened when only silence met her response. She could still see the soft rise of the blankets. Her heart slowed.
With her eyes still closed, the sick child spoke the language of the world, “I love you.”
The tears clogged the mother’s throat. “I love you too.”
“I think I am going to go now.” Another pause, it was as if Megan was struggling with the words. “Tell daddy I love him. Promise?”
“You’ll be able to tell him.” The mother spoke urgently. “He will be right back.” Hurry Richard her heart cried.
“Promise me mommy, please.” The pleading was her undoing.
Not wanting to disappoint her she promised, but also prayed she wouldn’t have to fulfill such a request.
“Is it Christmas?”
The mother barely looked at the clock. In a few more seconds it would be midnight, and Christmas morning. “Almost, about ten seconds away.”
The tears came pouring as her daughter’s breath became less visible. She looked at the clock, five more seconds. Where is Richard, her mind screamed.
She looked at the clock then to her daughter. It was time. “I love you Megan. Merry Christmas.”
There was no response. “Megan?” The mother’s voice panicked.
The dreaded beep rang out into the room as the world celebrated a new Christmas morn. The mother grabbed her daughter’s hand and cried out. Only sobbing could be heard over the beep as shock and pain filled the room along with nurse’s and the father who arrive just a moment too late. His fear had happened and he missed it. The pain was overbearing as he broke down with his wife, his family.
Megan could hear her parent’s crying but kept walking until she saw the warm glow that permeated through to her soul. She heard the most-gentle voice calling to her, “Welcome home, Megan.”
“Merry Christmas,” was her happy response as she was presented with the greatest gift of all. A new life where there was no more pain or suffering, just as her mother had said.
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