It was a strange Christmas for you. Papa Dennis developed a serious infection in his eye the weekend before Christmas and on the Big Day, you had 30 minutes to play with your toys after opening them, and then we had to go visit him in the hospital.
Days before, the night after Papa was admitted, we sat in the waiting room until Mom came out. She told you “Papa doesn’t look like himself. I don’t want you to be surprised when you see him.”
On our way in I translated: “I think what Momma means is he looks really bad, and that might be scary to you.”
“My heart is beating,” you said. “I do feel scared.”
We entered the room and saw your grandfather–one side of his face completely unrecognizable, and the other side swollen enough as to present a fun-house mirror version of his face. When he spoke, his voice sounded different too, throaty and weak. The skin around and over his right eye was black and swollen so much, it was impossible to identify his eyelid. You were solemn, friendly and worried like your parents. You didn’t recoil. You didn’t look away. You didn’t stare, either.
After a while, I took you downstairs for a break, and you told me “It’s funny. When I was first going in to see Papa, I was scared. But then when I saw him, I was just scared for him, and not scared for me anymore.”
Your maturity and your ability to process your emotions so adeptly gave me a twinge of pride.
On Christmas you got your first, complete horseback riding outfit, many plastic horses, a barn (with paddock and horse-washing station!), and lots of other great, super-cool gifts, including a robot insect. We opened them as we do these days–just the three of us–after stockings and breakfast. And then 30 minutes later, without complaint, you scooped up your plastic horses and we all piled into the car. Christmas lunch was macaroni and cheese from Au Bon Pain on the 2nd floor. You were a trooper.
This past Saturday, Papa came home, only to go back to the hospital again while they continue to fight that stubborn infection. Mom has been preoccupied, worried and stressed. I’ve seen it affect you some, but you also tell me you understand how mom must feel.
As of earlier this month, your blog is now one year old.
As we end 2014, I’m struck by how mature you’ve become this year. You’re funnier than you were, with a kind of always-on silliness at home, which I think you use to capture as much attention as possible (probably because it works.) You’re more conscientious and self-aware. You’re smarter, more curious. Taller. Definitely taller.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope by next month, you, Mom and Papa will still be holding up OK.