my christmas past

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.

Swept up

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.

15 thoughts on “my christmas past

  1. Christy

    Wow Heidi! What a Christmas gift. Seven months…you are so strong! I can only imagine how sweet that homecoming was. This brought tears to my eyes. Merry Christmas! xo

  2. Alexandra

    I can’t even believe your story.

    I had to sit here for a few minutes, to really read what your words say.

    Something like this, can’t be rushed through. They’re just not black figures against a white background, or words you can find in a dictionary.

    They need to be soaked in: “seven months in a burn unit.” SEVEN MONTHS.

    Let that lay on someone’s heart for awhile…and see what it really means.

    What a story you have.

  3. Cheryl P

    Looking forward to hearing my “celeb friend” on the radio tomorrow. I listen to CBC all day in my office. Good luck tomorrow, you orating marvel!

  4. Kimberly

    I have worked along side those nurses in the burn unit; my unit was right next door. The nurses on the burn unit always amazed us with their enduring love for their patients and the great lengths they would go through to make any day a little bit better. Please know that hearing your success and growth breathes deeper passion into the nursing staff. Thank-you for sharing.

  5. Perry Goertzen

    Awesome job on CBC radio, Heidi! Listened from my office this morning. So proud of you and can’t wait to read your book.

  6. tanya

    You were fab Heidi! V. articulate and professional sounding. 🙂 Cannot wait for the day I get to sit down with your book, along with a cup of tea and some kleenex!

  7. Gokmen

    Oh Lisa, you nailed this ssesion. Love that last one especially. What a great big brother he is going to be. And the poses are identical and will look awesome on a wall together!

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