On a cold December day in Baltimore, Maryland in the year two thousand nine, Jennifer was at home in her bed. Michael, her devoted husband, was by her side. Jennifer has been gravely ill for the past few weeks suffering from metastatic breast cancer. She spent most of the year in the hospital having chemotherapy treatments. The cancer had already metastasized beyond the breast. Just recently Michael had taken her home, since the doctors had done all they could. December was a more difficult month for her. She was eating very little and had lost more weight. Her health further deteriorated to the stage where she was totally bedridden. Suddenly, Jennifer opened her eyes and wheezed,"call the children!"
Fifty Years Earlier
Jennifer and her parents, Mary and Robert, had just finished a pleasant dinner together. Jennifer was on Christmas break from school where she was in the fourth grade. After dinner, she and her mom were going to May’s department store. Mary had to pick up a few gifts in layaway. Jennifer wanted to buy her dad a Christmas gift, since Christmas was only two days away. As they departed from the house, a light snow suddenly began to fall. Jennifer always liked this time of the year with the homes tastefully decorated with Christmas tree lights showing through the windows. The parking lot was nearly full when they arrived at the department store. Mary fortunately found an open space at the far end. The long, slow walk was extremely slippery due to the snow.
While in the store, they quickly went to the layaway department to pick up Mary’s gifts.
At the household department, Jennifer found a picture frame she really liked. She wanted a frame for a picture she had taken with her dad. However, since the checkout line was twenty deep, and it was getting late, Mary told her she would pick the frame up in the morning.
After exiting the store, Mary cautiously drove home since the snow had rapidly intensified.
When they safely arrived home, Robert met them at the door and said, "thank God you’re home, I was concerned due to the snow."
After Jennifer gave her mom and dad a goodnight kiss, she brushed her teeth and took a shower before bed.
Before falling asleep, she thought about all the precious moments she had spent with her loving mom. She was closer to her mom than dad but loved them equally.
The following morning, Christmas Eve, Mary prepared to go to the department store. Before she left, she anxiously glanced out the bay window. The snowy sky had given way to a beautiful sunrise. On the way to the store, Mary noticed several vehicles in roadside ditches.
Jennifer woke up to the sound of voices. She quickly got dressed to find out what was happening. When she reached the bottom of the stairs, she clearly saw two men conversing with her dad.
One, a stubby, black-bearded man whom she immediately knew as their family minister. The other, a tall rather thin man wearing a uniform that she didn’t recognize. She slowly walked toward her dad. However, before she reached him, he told her to go back to her room, and he would talk to her shortly. Subsequently, the voices downstairs abruptly ceased. When her father walked into her bedroom, she noticed tears freely streaming down his cheeks.
He immediately sat down and gave her a comforting hug and a gentle kiss. He said, " your mother was coming home from the department store when a car lost control on the snow covered winding roadway and hit her car”.
"Your mother has passed on to be with God in heaven". His eyes were so sad while saying this.
She quietly put her arms around her dad and started to cry.
Later Christmas Eve, Jennifer briefly glanced at the Christmas tree. She was uncertain if she could open her presents knowing that her mom was sadly missing. Her dad said,“your mother would have wanted you to open your presents”. With moist eyes, she reluctantly agreed. Suddenly, her mood partly changed to delight. She said," dad look what Santa brought me, I always wanted a diary!" Her dad went over and gave her a kiss and said, "your mother asked Santa for a diary."She knew you wanted one." After all the gifts were opened, she went to her bedroom immediately to start writing. Dear mom, I am writing to you in my diary Santa brought me. Santa also brought me a beautiful china doll, and I named her Mary. It was getting late so she finished writing in her diary. Merry Christmas and I really miss you, Love Jennifer. Her father laid down with her until she fell asleep,
Jennifer continued to write in her diary every Christmas Eve to her mom.
She would describe all the experiences she had throughout the year.
Michael summoned their loving children together with the family minister to express their final words of farewell.
Jennifer’s father had passed away two years earlier.
There was a certain amount of peace as they gathered around her bed to pray.
She was fading in and out of consciousness.
For the first time in months, she could embrace Cindy, her three year old granddaughter.
When in the hospital, Cindy had been extremely fearful of all the machines next to her Grandmother.
Cindy gently ascended onto her bed, and they shared one precious moment together before she fell back into unconsciousness.
Suddenly, Jennifer opened her eyes and her hands fervently reached upwards towards the corner of the room.
With a faint whisper, she said, " My mother is here, she looks so radiant."
The family thought she was probably hallucinating. However, Marie, Jennifer’s ten year old granddaughter
said, "Grandma where is she? I can’t see her." she said " you won’t be able to see her; she is here for me, not you."
Jennifer glanced over to her night stand and asked Michael to get her diary.
When he gave her the diary, she clutched her hands tightly around it.
Marie asked her mom, "What was that, that grandpa gave to grandma?" She told her it was her diary that Santa brought her when she was ten years old.
She had written her entire life in that diary.
Marie said, " Mom will I get a diary for Christmas?"
Before she could answer, Jennifer began to speak. With her hands tightly clutched around her diary, she said," this is my Christmas gift to my mother."
Jennifer then closed her eyes and passed on. It was Christmas Eve.