Hello and welcome to my place!
I’m so glad you’re here. Since this a party, come on in and join us around the kitchen table. I’ll pretend I’m setting out the pine candles and lighting the Christmas tree. On the table there’s a plate of warm cookies and cups of steaming cider.
Only I still have the autumn candles up and there’s no sign yet of a tree. Cookies may or may not happen. They definitely haven’t happened yet.
Hey, it’s okay, though. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Pam, and I’ve been a caregiver for over seventeen years. Things like holidays happen around our daily duties, doctor’s appointments, and physical therapy for our disabled son. I’ve learned a long time ago not to waste my tears over whether or not the Christmas cards get sent or if the cookies get baked.
Life happens. And I’m doing the thing I was born to do…caring for someone who needs me.
And that’s okay, even a joy, most of the time. But I never thought I’d be here, doing this, for the rest of my life.
In the summer of 1997, we were a busy, growing family. Our son Kevin was nineteen years old and an aspiring musician. That July, while on a teen mission’s trip, he suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in a fall in Canada. He was immediately paralyzed from the neck down. Because he couldn’t breathe, he was kept alive by CPR until the emergency personnel arrived and took him to the hospital.
He was flown to a larger hospital in Calgary, where we joined him after a twelve-hour drive through the night. Only one doctor gave us hope for his survival; recovery appeared impossible. While in Canada, we had to fight back a push for euthanasia, even though Kevin was conscious and fighting hard for life.
Through a series of miracles–yes, miracles!–Kevin was flown back to the States in a privately chartered Lear jet. Here, he nearly died two more times before stabilizing enough to be moved to a rehabilitation hospital. In the ensuing weeks, he began to get back some feeling and function, even as he fought the complications of his injury. While he recuperated, we learned how to care for someone who was mostly paralyzed and on a ventilator.
It was a big day for us when he finally came home. He had hoped to walk through the door. Instead he was wheeled in by the ambulance crew that transferred him from the hospital. We began our new lives in a new world for which we were little prepared.
It’s been a long journey.
Kevin eventually weaned off the ventilator during his waking hours. He has regained enough back to walk with help, feed himself finger foods, and run a computer. He has built his own website devoted to Christian music, cmaddict.com . He lives each day in gratitude and with faith. I’m inspired by his courage. I’m awed at his ability to trust in a faithful creator. I’m honored to be his caregiver.
So how do we celebrate Christmas?
The best we can. One year, Christmas dinner was fish sticks and freezer fries. Most years it’s lots better. We, more than many, I think, understand what it is like to live from breath to breath. We know just how fragile life can be. We’re grateful to be alive and to be together. We may not always deck the halls with boughs of holly, but we celebrate the coming of the One who has delivered and sustained us through nearly two decades of disability.
Christmas is the reminder that our Deliverer has come. We can have strength for today and hope for tomorrow. What better reason to celebrate?
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Get the story of Kevin’s journey on Kindle. During the holiday season, Song in the Night, the true account of Kevin’s injury, is on Kindle for only 99 cents. Get it here.