My daughter, Carrie, was no more than two when she broke her arm on Christmas Day.
We could hear pitter-pattering on the roof, but not the reindeer variety. A steady rain drummed the shingles, plopped from the eaves, and splattered the windows. Not at all typical Christmas Day weather for our neck of the woods. The only sparkling snow clung to the interior panes, sprayed through festive stencils. Smeared, crumbly, and questionably ozone-friendly, at least this snow reflected the twinkling of multi-hued lights.
Outdoor activities were squelched. Sure, there'd been some splashing, but toboggans balk in the mud. Raindrops refuse to be rolled into lopsided snowmen. Throwing water lacks the exploding impact of a snowball siege. Sigh, this December twenty-fifth left us to wonder.
As if this weather aberration hadn't shocked us enough, our eldest daughter broke with familiar traditions. She introduced us to the heart-pounding-frantic-trip-to-an-emergency-room-with-a-hangover-Christmas-Day tradition.
Well, one of us was nursing a hangover. Not to point fingers, but he winced at loud noises and appeared a bit green about the gills. Christmas Eve imbibing represented uncharacteristic revelry. He hoped to sleep off his over indulgence, but in a micro-second two-year old Carrie shattered that dream.
In a house stuffed with relatives happily diverted by nibbling and nattering, Carrie had climbed onto her grandmother's forbidden bolster bed. Alone, she no doubt gleefully jumped up and down without anyone to curtail her hijinks.
The echoing thump and immediate wailing alerted us to Carrie's location.
Stomping up the stairs and bursting into my Mom's room, hubby and I were greeted by the sight of our sobbing toddler sprawled on the floor clutching her left arm. Jagged shards of bone poked through her inner elbow.
Instinctively, Daddy scooped her up, and ran for the back door of the house. Shouts, and a few bodies barred his exit.
"Do you know where you're going? Do you have your car keys? Wait, you both need a jacket. Just breathe."
In that scant space of a few precious minutes, I'd reminded my mother that my infant son lay asleep in his crib. I'd snatched my purse with the required health-insurance card and car keys, our coats, our boots, a pillow, and a blanket from various surfaces as I hurried to join my partner, cradling Carrie, at the kitchen door.
Bundled into the back seat, with her injured limb propped on the pillow, Carrie's tear dampened eyes spoke unblinking questions. As I directed my spouse to drive to the next village located a twenty minute drive away, I explained to my trembling daughter that we were going to have special pictures taken of the inside of her arm. I assured her that a doctor would fix it and make the pain go away. Since she'd worn a bandage or two, I described the biggest, strongest bandage that the doctor would make just for her. I also promised that everyone could write and draw on it.
At the tiny local hospital, the sole nurse on duty praised us for not hailing an ambulance. Ambulance? This hadn't occurred to us take charge parents. Apparently, both ambulances had been called out to heart attacks.
We settled in to wait for the x-ray technician to arrive and fire up the one room of equipment. The cuddling and reading out loud of story books quelled a bit of our anxiety. Gradually, our breathing calmed and our pulses slowed.
Bang! Boom! Instant and total darkness descended. We couldn't help it, we startled. The relentless rain had knocked out the power, and caused the heavy metal doors to slam shut. Not only did the overhead lamps need electricity, but so did the electric magnets of those doors, and, regrettably, the x-ray machine.
By flashlight, the one and only attending physician fashioned a temporary splint for Carrie's undeniably fractured arm. He bade us a Merry Christmas and good luck as he waved us to our vehicle.
We had no choice but to drive to another medical facility. The closest full-sized hospital with a suite of x-ray machinery lay seventy-five miles to the north. It was enough of a distance to chance finding the luxury of hydro.
Most of our drive seemed eerie. We were alone on the rain-slicked highway. Our headlights created the only illumination. We missed the cheery rainbow glow of Christmas decorations. No stars or moonlight penetrated the muffling downpour.
Blessedly, Carrie semi-dozed, snuggled in her blanket cocoon. Hubby and I conversed enough to stay awake.
Hallelujah! North Bay's traffic lights and holiday decor were a welcome beacon. Even the emergency room glowed.
Carrie endured her first ever x-rays with minimal complaint. They verified fractures of both her ulna and radius.
At about one in the morning of Boxing Day, I kissed my daughter and her exhausted father good-bye. Carrie grinned at the two of us. She and her Daddy were having a hospital sleepover. I reluctantly left them tucked into bed.
I drove back to my Mom's house. Soon enough Carrie's baby brother, Chris, would be awake and demanding breakfast. As a breast-feeding mother, I could not be in two places at once.
Later that same morning, I returned to retrieve my accident survivor and her sleepover buddy. I knew an orthopedic surgeon planned to set and cast her wee arm with the aid of anaesthesia. I didn't know what to expect, but I needn't have worried.
When I entered the hospital room, Carrie greeted me with a raised and waving plaster cast. This was no small feat because she also sported a linen sling knotted around her neck.
"Look Mommy! See?"
I oohed and aahed over the signatures and happy faces decorating the still soft and damp plaster. I dug a pen from my purse, and I drew the face of a boy on her fresh cast, and a 'Mommy' in a heart.
I snuck a quick peek at my hubby. The tousled hair, bloodshot eyes, facial stubble, and wrinkled clothing spoke to his ordeal.
Carrie patted his cheek.
This created a Christmas to remember. (993 words )