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 mommy and daddy had just finished dinner. Jennifer was on Christmas break from school where she was in the fourth grade. After dinner Jennifer and her mommy were going to May's department store. Mary had to pick up a few gifts which she had in layaway. Jennifer wanted to buy her daddy a Christmas gift, since Christmas was only two days away. As they were leaving 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. When they finally arrived at the department store, the snow had picked up in intensity and the parking lot was nearly full.
Mary said to Jennifer,"we should not be too long, I only need to pick up a few gifts in layaway." Jennifer wanted to get a picture frame for a beautiful picture that her mother had taken of her and her daddy at the zoo last summer.
They successfully found an open space at the far end of the parking lot. The long, slow walk was extremely slippery due to the snow.
In the store, they quickly went to the layaway department to pick up Mary's gifts.
At the household department, Jennifer picked out a picture frame she really liked, however, the checkout line was twenty deep,
therefore, since it was quite late, Mary told Jennifer she would pick the frame up in the morning.
After exiting the store, Jennifer and her mommy slowly drove home.
They arrived home safely and went into the house where Robert was watching television.
When Robert heard them coming through the door, he immediately got up and said, " I was concerned about you due to the weather
advisories for snow".
Mary told Robert they did not have any problems, since they drove carefully.
After Jennifer gave her mommy and daddy a goodnight kiss, she went to brush her teeth and take a shower before bed.
Before falling asleep, Jennifer reflected on all the wonderful times she and her mommy had spent together. She is closer to her mommy than daddy but loves them equally.
Jennifer firmly closes her eyes and falls asleep.
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 ditches off the side of the road.
Jennifer woke up to the sound of voices coming from downstairs. Jennifer quickly got dressed to find out what was happening. She wondered why she heard several voices, when only her mommy and daddy should be in the house. When she got down to the end of the stairs where she could see, she noticed two men talking to her daddy.
One, a stubby, black-bearded man whom she immediately knew as their family minister. The other, a tall thin man she did not recognize. She noticed he was wearing a uniform. Jennifer slowly walked toward her daddy, but before she got to him, he told her to go back to her room, and he would be there in a few minutes. Not exactly knowing what was going on, Jennifer went upstairs to her bedroom and sat on her bed.
Several minutes later, the voices downstairs passed. The two men with her daddy had left.
When Jennifer's daddy walked into her room toward her bed, she noticed tears freely streaming down his cheeks.
He immediately sat down and gave Jennifer a comforting hug and a gentle kiss. He said, " mommy was coming home from the department store when a car lost control on the snow covered winding roadway and hit her car”.
"Mommy has gone to be with God in heaven". His eyes were so sad while saying this.
Jennifer quietly put her arms around her daddy and started to cry.
Later Christmas Eve, Jennifer, in her sorrow, could barely look at the gifts beneath the tree.
Jennifer refused to open her gifts because her mommy was not here. Her daddy said “mommy would have wanted you to open your gifts”.
Reluctantly, with moist eyes, Jennifer opened her gifts. One in particular caught her attention.
At first she thought it was a book. However, after totally unwrapping the gift, she realized it was a diary.
Jennifer's mood changed slightly as she said, "daddy, look what Santa Claus brought me,
I always wanted a diary." Jennifer's daddy went over to Jennifer and gave her a kiss and said,
"your mommy asked Santa for the diary." She knew how much you wanted one.
After Jennifer opened her gifts, she quickly prepared for bed. She wanted to start writing in her brand new personnel diary.
Sitting on her bed, Jennifer started writing, Merry Christmas mommy, I love you and really miss you so much.
Daddy misses you too. I saw him cry for the very first time. I am writing to you in my new diary Santa brought me.
Santa brought many nice gifts: a beautiful china doll complete with stand, dressed in a long checked dress, full petticoat, and a matching bonnet.
Also, a Victorian dollhouse which is taller than me. My China doll's name is Mary, identical to your name.
Jennifer's daddy came into her room and told her she should try and get some sleep.
Jennifer finished writing and wrote--It's getting late, and I have to go to bed--good night mommy, I love you.
Jennifer's daddy laid down with her until she fell asleep.
Jennifer continued to write in her diary every Christmas Eve to her mommy.
She would relate 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.
Jennifer was fading in and out of consciousness.
For the first time in months, Jennifer 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 Jennifer 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, Jennifer said, " My mommy 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." Jennifer 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 Michael gave her the diary, she clutched her hands tightly around it.
Marie asked her mommy, "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 her diary.
Marie said, " Mommy 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 mommy."
Jennifer then closed her eyes and passed on. It was Christmas Eve.