Thursday, December 3, 2009

Friday Fiction for December 4, 2009

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by Karlene, at Homespun Expressions. Be sure to look for MckLinky there, and the other wonderful submissions for the first Friday Fiction of the Holiday Season.

For the next three weeks, I plan on following the holiday theme for FF, and I decided to start off with the one that was my first ever 1st place entry from the Weekly Challenge on Faithwriters. This one wasn’t really fiction, but a somewhat stylized telling of a real event.

This is a snapshot of our first Christmas together as husband and wife. In so many ways, it cemented us together, and Nancy has often said that she has since felt if we could get through that time, we could get through almost anything. I entered Emanuel Hospital in Portland Oregon on Nov. 23, 1980, and was discharged on Jan. 2, 1981.

Counting the Drops

By Rick Higginson

Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent

Challenge Entry, Week of October 23, 2008

1st place, Advanced level; #10 in Editor’s Choice

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The slow, metered drops in the I.V. tube counted the time as much as the second hand on the clock did. Perhaps, more so, since after a certain number of them, the nurse would be in to change the bag.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The tube had carried his Thanksgiving “dinner” into his system, and unless his non-functioning digestive system started working again soon, his Christmas dinner would likewise enter his body through his veins.

The television reminded him often that Christmas was fast approaching. The commercials for all the latest “gotta have” gifts were bad enough, but the ones for all the holiday foods were almost torture.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Happy families on television carved turkeys, hams, and passed around slices of pie. Candies and beverages were touted as essential for Yule gatherings, and the occasional joke was made about weight gain. The odd fluids trickling into his body were barely adequate to maintain his weight, and the doctors were worried; he’d already been lean for his height when he’d arrived, and he’d since lost nearly twenty pounds.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

This wasn’t how their first Christmas together as husband and wife was supposed to have gone. Sure, money was tight and gifts would have been modest, but they’d already bought an inexpensive tree for the apartment and some budget ornaments. When he’d first gone to the Emergency Room with abdominal pain the weekend before Thanksgiving, he hadn’t even imagined he could still be there on Christmas.

No one was optimistic about it now; their first Christmas together was going to be spent in the surgical ward. No cantatas, no singing with the choir, no Christmas Eve service, and no sitting beside their first tree, watching each other’s face while they opened their gifts.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Cycling through the channels on the T.V., he looked for something better than the annoying sit-com. The hospital staff had brought a hide-a-bed chair into his room so that his wife could spend the nights in the room with him, rather than alone in their low-rent apartment. She was off taking care of other things, though, so he hoped for something to take his mind off the boredom.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The image of a church building came up on the screen, and the sound of people singing Christmas carols. He set the remote aside and watched, wishing for the world he was free of the tubes that ran down the back of his throat to his stomach and beyond so that he could sing with the program.

There was no sales-pitch accompanying the program, and no promotions; just unseen people singing. He listened, carried away by the pure spirit of the season, untarnished by any undertones of commercialism.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

The drops rolled from his cheeks to the gown, the moments until Christmas marked by the fluid passage of life both into and out of his body. The program lasted for nearly a half-hour, providing a touch he so desperately wanted. Christmas would come, even to a hospital room in Portland, Oregon.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Christmas would come, and she would be there. It would still be their first Christmas together, and God had just shown him that His Spirit would not be kept away, either.

“Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” he had sung many times. The Messiah had been born in less than ideal circumstances, and the birth had been joyful. The joy could still be felt despite the situation.

Drip. Drip. Drip.

He would just keep counting.


Yvonne Blake said...

Beautiful and so touching! *tears*

Debra Gray-Elliott said...

Such a wonderful reminder. My mother-in-law was in the hospital during the holiddays.

Catrina Bradley said...

My favorite kind of Christmas story. Thanks, Hoomi.

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

Very touching, and a good reminder that Christmas isn't always picture perfect...not even the first one.