Back in Denver tonight after 2 weeks in OH/PA and I am really missing my family.
I flew home to Cincinnati on a Saturday, one full week before Christmas and for the first time in several years, all of my siblings (5 of us!) were home, too. Our youngest sister, Lexi, was scheduled for an open heart surgery on Monday, 12/19, so we kids made it a point to be home a few days before to celebrate Christmas together and rally around Lexi ahead of her surgery.
Per Lexi’s request, we went to a Christmas church play, ate Christmas dinner (including her favorite ‘red noodles’) and exchanged gifts on the night before. I snapped lots of photos throughout the night and ensuing days; while we all expected and hoped for the best on Monday, our baby sister would be facing a major, 8 hour operation during which machines would be pumping her blood and breathing air into her lungs. It was hard not to acknowledge the seriousness of what the next day would bring and push out the worst case scenarios from bouncing around our brains. But that night, we put aside differences, laughed and hugged, and really savored our moments together as a family.
We caravanned down to Cincinnati’s Children’s hospital on Monday morning after a night of restless sleep to spend the last few minutes with Lexi before she was wheeled back to the operating room. In true millennial fashion, she sent out one last snap before the doctors came for her.
The next hours were agonizing. Lexi was the longest case of the day so we were shown into a consultation room to post up for the next 8 hours. A nurse came in to update us every 1.5 hours; in between, we read books and emails, slept, colored, took coffee breaks, flipped through hospital TV channels. Time has never moved so slowly as it did that morning.
And then, early in the afternoon, Lexi’s doctor joined us in our room to deliver the best news I’ve ever heard – surgery was a success and everything went smoothly. They were cleaning her up and moving her to the ICU and we’d be allowed to see her in a couple of hours.
Miraculously, Lexi came out of surgery and surprised everyone with how great she was recovering. There were hilarious post-surgery conversations that I will never forget (although, she may not remember them as clearly). She was awake, aware and in good spirits. After 1 day in the ICU, she was moved to the ‘step down’ room where she spent one night and came home the following day. After 2 days in the hospital after open heart surgery, she was coming home!
The week between Lexi coming home and Alex and I trekking back to Pittsburgh was truly magical. My brothers and sisters were home, my husband was with me, my parents and their spouses were home and off work. I went to yoga with my brother and my husband; we played cards around the kitchen table; my dad and his wife came over every single day.
Alex and I spent great time with his family, too – snuggling with our newest nephew and his amazing parents, catching up with a brother who just started college and sister who is about to graduate college. We spent an afternoon bowling and eating barbecue and instead of exchanging gifts this year, we opted to play games together on Christmas morning, spending precious time together that we rarely get as adults.
And now, back in Denver by myself, I’m feeling a little sad and lonely. The post-holiday blues. I feel so lucky and grateful for these days spent with my families this holiday season because in every facet, we slowed down and focused on the meaning of Christmas – sharing love and joy with each other. And this year, more than most, I plan to carry this light into my new year, too.