Tinsel, wreaths, and garlands with red berries began to appear on doorways and walls. Themed trees representing the wards of the hospital decorated the lobbies and cafeteria. Little red fire trucks hung from the burns and plastics tree. There was a spring to people’s steps. Happy complaints of how there was never enough time were heard in the hallways. Christmas was near and people were excited.
I had been in the burn unit for nearly seven months and I hadn’t been home yet. I hadn’t been stable enough. There was talk of sending me home, back to Abbotsford, for Christmas.
Christmas Eve morning arrived and snow had fallen hard in the Lower Mainland. We can have entire winters where we might just get a dusting of snow before the rain washes it away. Snow tends to stay on the mountains where it belongs. But every other winter or so snow covers the mainland and we’ve never been very equipped for snow. We understand rain coming down so hard our windshield wipers can’t keep up, but snow dumbfounds us.
Morphine was measured and poured, a bed ordered for the basement of my parents’ home, where I’d be sleeping. Everything was being looked after in preparation for my return home, but somebody still needed to drive me there, now that a snowstorm had hit. The drive from Vancouver to Abbotsford was about an hour long.
Calls were made. Who could help? The staff had gone through so much to get me home. They were going to call until someone said yes.
A firefighter named Peter Hansen stepped up and promised to take me.
My memory of the journey was jerky, snapshots I could barely hang onto.
Many hands sliding me into the cab of the truck where somebody had the foresight to make me a bed.
Goodbyes and wishes of a Merry Christmas shouted.
Blankets pulled up to my chin. My heart racing with hope and impatience.
White swollen sky rolled by me as I lay in my makeshift bed. Snowflakes landed on the window, a blanket of stars.
I was going home.
Read about more of my story here.
Remember radio? I’m going to be on it tomorrow! For the Angel Campaign at VGH. Listen for it on Thursday. I’ll be on at 7:40am on CBC Radio with Rick Cluff and share a little of my Christmas story past as written here and talk about the amazing VGH Burn Unit.