We did not exchange gifts this year. For the first time in three years, Christmas did not come wrapped in memories of IVs, hospital smells, or the face of pain…that was gift enough.
We received a digital photo frame from Nick’s parents last week. Resizing pictures from “the early days”, there are lines on our faces that were not there before. We joke that we’ve aged each other. How dare you make me smile so much that it stays on my face long after the moment has passed! As we embark on our fourth year together, he can still surprise me.
Unloading groceries last night, he hands me an envelope. “I meant this to be for Christmas, but it did not come until Saturday.” I reread the first line a few times in disbelief. He donated money for Cancer research in my mother’s name. It was one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I started tearing up and his lower lip trembled: he knew.
He did not know her well. I wanted them to meet, but Mom was insistent that she wanted to wait until she felt better. She was in denial that the end was so near, and I suppose that I was too because I rescheduled the meeting for some future date when the nightmare would be over.
Instead, he met her once in the hospital when she promised him, “Next time you see me, I’ll be doing somersaults,” and the next time he saw her she was delirious and heading into a coma. Yet, for a woman that he didn’t know, and a girlfriend that he knew less than a month, he never left my side. He just seemed to understand what needed to be done.
He always does. Thank you, Nick.