The first time I heard the wish was in April, a full eight months before Christmas, when most children have forgotten that Santa is watching and are busy planning their April vacation.
My Son, X, and I were sitting around on the floor, playing games, when X said seriously, "Mom, for Christmas, I am going to ask Santa to make you better."
"WHAT?!" I gasped, shocked.
"Where did this come from?!" I thought to myself, and worse, "How does my son know that he needs to ask for a miracle for me to be healthy?"
I thought we had done well hiding the fact my Hodgkin's Lymphoma was "incurable," and therefore, "terminal," but as so many parents do, I had underestimated what my son understood.
"I don't want toys..." He continued, nonchalantly, looking down at the toy he was playing with, "I just want you better."
Then the tears started to well up, and my heart started to break. He was willing, at the tender age of six, to give up all the toys in the world to ask for me to be healthy.
I finally got myself together to talk to him.
"You know you don't have to wait for Christmas to ask." I told him.
"You don't?!" He yelled, looking up quickly with his big brown eyes staring, curiously, like I had the answer to the all the world's problems.
"No, you don't have to wait," I said, "because God is Santa's boss. He is around all the time. Santa is a helper for one night."
"So we can start writing letters NOW?!" X screamed delightfully, half asking and half demanding.
"Yes, we can write letters, and we can pray every night..." I said, trailing off, dreamily, thinking about the possibility of my own mortality, and how it was affecting my little man.
X cut right into my thoughts, ready to start his letter to Santa, asking for me to be healthy, and praying for me to get better.
After his April request, I constantly did the math to see if I could be healthy for Christmas.
In August, I started a round of chemotherapy that required infusions every Monday for two to three months with the guarantee that I would be sick and hospitalized during active treatment, but possibly putting me in remission for November and the holiday season.
However, instead of getting better with treatment, I got worse. My lungs began to fail in August, and I underwent multiple biopsies and surgery to diagnose the problem. By the end of November, I was undiagnosed, oxygen dependent, relying only on a third of a lung to survive, and at 26 years old, instead of a miracle, I was thinking about stopping my medications and allowing nature to take its course.
But in the back of my mind I kept thinking about X's Christmas wish. Angrily, I wondered how God could do this to a child that put all his faith in him and Santa Claus asking for one selfless thing for Christmas.
But X never got angry. He never gave up hope. Instead, he kept reminding me that I'd be better for Christmas.
On Dec. 5th I was finally diagnosed with Bronchiolitis Obliterans, a life threatening complication of bone marrow transplantation scarier than cancer itself.
On Dec. 22, sicker than I'd ever been, I was wheeled into my Doctor's office. Seeing the state I was in, he recommended immediate hospitalization. Instead, I burst out crying thinking I could miss my last Christmas with my family and asked for prednisone.
Steroids are a double-edged sword in cancer care. Prednisone would alleviate the inflammation causing my lung failure, but it also would almost ensure my cancer would return.
The answer was easy. I opted for steroids.
The prednisone worked like a miracle. I could eat for the first time in months. I could play games with X. We were able to do all our Christmas traditions together, and X saw that with his determined faith his Christmas wish had come true.
It's been two years now since X made his Christmas wish. He still remembers all the letters to Santa and prayers to God he said for me to get better, but if he ever starts to forget or lose faith, I'm still here to remind him that God and Santa grant miracles, especially for Christmas.
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