Miracle On Christmas Morning
Wendy stepped out of the balmy warmth of Dr. Nelson’s office into the frigid December afternoon. She carefully navigated her way across the slippery parking lot and sat in the front seat of her silver 2008 Cheverlot Equinox.
“If I wasn’t so tired, I’d play out in the snow with Cody,” she said to herself as she started the car and then gazed at the frozen wonderland that surrounded her. Bundled shoppers scampered down the street in front of her. Like hunters stalking a prized elk, they were headed eagerly toward the shopping center down the street to snatch up the remaining items on their Christmas shopping lists.
“It really is beautiful out.” Wendy thought as she stole a few moments to enjoy the winter beauty that resembled a classic painting of a wintery day. The freshly fallen snow blanketed the roads. Slivery icesicles dangled from the snow covered trees. A group of children were building a snowman in a vacant lot. Others were playfully throwing snowballs at each other. “Norman Rockwell.” She remarked to herself, “This definitely reminds me of a Norman Rockwell picture.”
Seeing happy children made her miss Cody and she backed out of the parking lot and headed home. She passed a churchyard filled with young boys playing football. “I wish so much that Cody could play football. He’d love it.”
She herself had a great childhood. She was a tomboy but she had fun. Cody needs to have fun. He needs to do the things that all children do. She went back into her mind and briefly daydreamed of a frozen yard twenty years ago. Wendy, then ten, was decked out in a Pittsburgh Steeler jersey stretched over top of two gray sweatshirts that dangled out above her jeans.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” The younger version of Wendy yelled at her older brother, Kip. “He ran right by you. If you weren’t such a baby you could have slammed him down.”
“I slipped. I was going to dive on him and my foot slipped.”
“Yeah, right. You have an excuse for everything. Let me show you how this game is played.”
“Whatever,” Kip mumbled as the kickoff flew in his direction.
“Pitch me the ball,” Young Wendy commanded as Kip snared the kickoff.
“All right, but I ain’t blocking for ya,” Kip warned as he flipped the ball back to his younger sister.
“Just stay out of my way, you big baby!” Wendy shot through the snow briefly cutting to the left avoiding Bobby Thomas then slashing quickly up through middle gliding by Stevie Jeter. Only Gary Markum remained up ahead.
“You’re all mine,” The thirteen year-old redhead threatened.
As she approached her brother’s best friend, she bobbed her head to the left and then faked a step in that direction. As Gary started to follow in that direction, the young tomboy spun quickly to her right and accelerated. Wham! Gary Markum moved with her and brought her down into the deep snow!
“You were lucky that time,” Wendy laughed.
“Still a good run,” Gary complimented, “You’re lucky you had the snow to soften your fall.” The two laughed and knocked the snow off of each other as they headed toward the line of scrimmaged.
“ I wish Cody could enjoy football but he’s just too stiff to play. I wouldn’t know what to do if he got hurt.” Wendy was back to snowing Cincinnati concentrating on the snow covered roads. “Things were so much easier back then.”
The silver Equinox turned off to Beechwood Drive and then came to rest in Wendy’s driveway. As she turned off the car, her mind jerked her back to Dr. Nelson’s office.
“I just don’t see how you are still working, Wendy.”
“I’ve gotta do what I gotta do Doc.”
“But it’s just about time to call in Hospice.”
“Doc, this is the last Christmas that I’m going to be able to spend with Cody. I’m going to make sure it’s going to be the best. That little boy deserves so much.”
“I know that Wendy but you have to conserve your strength.”
“I wish I had half the strength and heart Cory has. He’s eight years old and has already gone through so much including open heart surgery. He never complains.” Then she laughed, “He never slows down either. He just keeps on going.”
Dr. Nelson smiled while he tried to think of what to say. “Wendy, you’ve done great. He’s a wonderful boy. I know you feel like you are leaving him behind but he won’t be alone. He has your mother and sisters.”
“I know, Doc. And my insurance money will give him what he wants for a while but …..I hate to say it. I just hate to.”
“Wendy, just let it out. You have to say it.”
“I’m working with him and he’s learning. He’s the sweetest kid in the world. He’s a very special kid with the biggest heart I’ve ever seen. I just want him to live a normal life. To have the opportunities that I had.”
“Wendy, I honestly believe you have taught him well. I think he’ll be all right.”
“I want him to have girlfriends, and get married. To have children of his own and raise them. To play sports and defend himself against bullies. To go to college and have a career. He deserves those things more than anyone I know.”
“I know, Wendy. It must be hard to have an autistic child. But there are special things about him.”
“But it’s really hard to want and wish for normal things for my son like he isn’t good enough. I love him so much. He is all I think about. I don’t want to think he isn’t normal and that word gives me nightmares, but I want him to be happy and to have everything and I don’t know , Doctor. It’s got me so angry and upset. I get so mad at myself because I think of my son like he isn’t normal like there is something wrong with him and I’m not happy who he is or I’m disappointed… and that’s not really the way I feel. I love him so much words can’t describe the feeling I get when I’m around him. It’s like truly being with an angel. I feel so blessed when I’m with him.”
Wendy looked up from her steering wheel, and could see Cody waving and smiling at her from the living room window. She immediately lit up and all of her troubles were gone… for now.
Cody came charging across the living room and practically jumped up into his mother’s arms. “Mommy!!!”, the eight year-old screamed.
“Baby! Did you see the snow?”
“Can we play in it?”
“Sure baby. Did Grandma fix you some supper?”
“Good! Let’s get you bundled up and we’ll make some snow angels!”
Wendy’s mother shuffled into the room. “What did Doc Nelson say?”
“Nothing good. Wants me to rest.”
“You need to!”
“Really Mom. I’ve got a lot of living to do in a short time. I’m taking Cody out in the snow then we are going to work on his letters and numbers.”
“You don’t look well at all, you need to lie down.”
“Well, I probably don’t feel better than I look but Cody loves the snow.”
Wendy and Cody put on their warmest clothes and headed out to play. Cody was having a blast. He was trying to make snowballs but his hands are awkward and he can’t grip or close his hands well. The snow sllides out of his hands as he tries to pack it into a ball. Cody knelt to the ground and started picking up armfulls of snow. Suddenly, Wendy felt very dizzy. She collasped into the snow.
Cody has his back turned to Wendy and did not understand what had happened when he turned back around. “Are you making snow angels, Mommy?”
“Yes, Dear. But I’m very tired. How about us going in and have Grandma make some Hot Chocolate?”
Wendy laid in bed for a while just staring at the ceiling worried about her child’s future without his mother. Cody came barrelling in and jumped into the bed next to her.
“I love you Mommy!”
“I love you Baby. I love you so much.” Cody curled up next to his mother. Wendy started to cry.
Cody has already been through much in his young life. He has undergone open heart surgery. He accepted it bravely, smiling up at Wendy through his pain as she squeezed his little hand. He was a brave soldier all of the way. “Don’t worry, Mommy. Please don’t cry, I’ll be okay”, he assured her from his hospital bed.
Now, it was her turn to be brave while she faced cancer. She had learned strength from Cody. she knew his life was going to be tough but she was going to have to have faith in his strength. Maybe she was worrying too much about Cody's future. Maybe he was tougher than she realized.
The next morning, while Wendy was sleeping in later than usual, Cody and his Grandmother were in the kitchen.
Cody spoke up, “I know Mommy’s sick. She doesn’t want me to know.”
Grandma really didn’t know how to answer, then Cody continued. “Can we fix Mommy breakfast and give it to her bed?”
“Why, Cody, that’s a great idea!”
“Mommy hasn’t been eating much lately, she’s got to be hungry. Do you think she’d want some eggs?”
“Cody, she’ll love anything you fix her.”
As they started to prepare bacon, eggs, and biscuits, Cody tried to break an egg open it and fell out of his awkward grip and to the counter. Grandma smiled. They laughed at each other. They put the food on a try and Cody carried it to his mother’s room.
“Mommy!!” Cody shouted as he burst into the room smiling.
Waking up Wendy smiled ,”Why, Cody, what have you done? Breakfast. How did you know I was hungry?” Of course, Wendy had been having trouble eating but did not want to disappoint her son. “My, does that look delicious, and it smells so good!”
“It is good,” Cody said. “I ate a piece of bacon. I didn’t even know I could cook.”
“You can do anything you want, Cody, and don’t you ever forget that.”
“I love you Mommy.”
“I love you Cody.”
A few days passed and Wendy grew sicker. It was Christmas morning. Cody woke up and climbed out of bed and wiped his eyes. “I wonder what Santa brought me?” He headed toward the living room. He heard rustling and as he saw a strange figure by the tree, he asked “Santa?”
“Merry Christmas, Cody,’ The strange figure answered.
Cody noticed a ‘heavenly’ glow coming from the figure. He wiped his eyes again.
“Don’t be scared,” The figure said.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Anna…I’m an Angel.’
“Why are you here?”
“Cody, I know you know your mother is very sick.”
“Yes, I know.”
“I’m here to take her to a place where her pain will stop.”
“But I don’t want her to go.”
“I also have a very special gift for you.’
“I don’t want it. I want Mommy!”
“Open this gift. It is a Christmas Miracle. You will be totally cured and you will be like other children.”
“I want to be who I am and I want my Mommy.”
“You will be able to do everything the other children do. This is a gift from your Mommy. She prayed for this for you.”
“I like who I am. I want to give it to my Mommy.”
“What do you mean?”
“If it heals me, why can’t it heal her?”
The Angel was stumped. “Well, I don’t know really.”
Cody took the present and ran into his mother’s room.
Wendy looked up weakly and smiled the best she could, “Why, thank you Baby.” She struggled to open it. She tried not to look confused when she discovered the box was empty. “It’s very beautiful. Thank you Baby. Merry Christmas.” She then put her head down and fell asleep.
“Mommy are you all right? Mommy!!!”
Grandma came rushing into the room as Anna disappeared. She felt for Wendy’s pulse. “She’s okay, Cody. She’s tired and needs to sleep.”
Cody was playing with his toys a few hours later when Wendy came into the room. She hugged her son. “Thank you for the gift Cody. For some reason I feel so much better since you gave it to me. Where did you get it?”
“Yes, Mommy. An angel gave it to me for Christmas.’
“Well, thank you for giving it to me Baby. I think it’s the best present I’ve ever received.”
Cody smiled and said ,"Thank you Mommy. I just want you to be happy."
"That smile, Cody, that is all I ever wanted for Christmas. That beautiful smile of yours. That's all I need to be happy."
Wendy was feeling better and better. She figured Cody somehow had something to do with it. He was almost too good, perhaps he was perfect. She was wrong for ever wanting to change him. Then the answer came to her:
She pulled her son to her side. "Cody , you really are Mommy's little angel." She knew that was the only explanation. Cody was her little angel. She knew everything was going to be alright. Cody was going to have time to learn what they needed. They would both be okay. In fact, together they would be great. She had faith. "Miracles don't happen by accident Cody. And you are my little miracle."
"If I'm your miracle then you are mine, Mommy. Maybe we have saved each other."