~The Bell of Hope~

Candace's Fantastic Voyage Award

"Renee! Renee! Wake up! Santa has been here!" My baby brother Todd was shaking me in my slumber. He was only 5 years old and so excited that this was Christmas morning. The night before, Mom had a hard time getting him to go to sleep. He sat in his pajamas by the small window in his room hoping to get a glimpse of the jolly fellow as he flew over our house. At 1 am Mom picked up her sleeping son and tucked him into his warm bed.

"Go away squirt, it’s only 4 am. Mom and Dad will have a fit."

"But Renee, Santa has been here, come on Renee get up!"

"Todd! Go back to bed. We have to wait a bit."

"Ohhhh…." I could hear his little feet storming out of my room and making his way down the staircase. Todd had always been a very impatient little boy. Although we were 5 years apart we were very close. He was the little guy I had to protect. Like all little brothers he sometimes got on my nerves but all in all he was very precious to me. When Mom and Dad announced an addition to our family I was very upset. Here I had been the only child for almost five years and they were going to bring in a new baby to take away my thunder? I isolated myself from the world for over a week in defiant reprisal but it didn’t do any good. Six months later I had a little brother and once I laid eyes on him I was just as much in awe of him as my parents.

That particular Christmas morning I was not there to protect him. In my sleep I could hear paper rattling then those little feet scampering back up the stairs and into my room, "Renee, Santa brought me a bike!" He was so excited. The one thing he asked for and now his dream had come true.

"That’s great Todd," I said, "Now, do you think you could go back to bed for a little while?"

I turned over on my pillow and pulled the coverlet tight under my chin. I could hear Todd running back down the stairs to view his prized possession. That was the last time I heard my little brother and the dreams of that morning keep coming back again and again but mostly around the holidays.

"Irene, wake up," My mother’s voice was ringing in my ears. "We need to get to the hospital."

"Give me a few minutes Mom and I will be right down." My eyes still blurry, I crawled out of bed and headed for the shower. Every Saturday Mom, Dad and I made our weekly trip to the hospital to see Todd. Five years earlier on Christmas morning he had taken his new shiny bike out for a ride at 4 in the morning. So excited about his new toy that he couldn’t contain himself. Two hours later there was a loud knock at the door.

Next thing I know, my mother is hysterical. "Mrs. McClane, your son has been hit by a car and is on his way to St. Benedicts Hospital." Todd had taken his bike out and was riding in the neighborhood all alone when a car came out of no where and hit him. The bike and Todd went flying. He was rushed to the hospital and immediately underwent surgery for a blood clot in his little brain as well as having to have his jaw wired shut due to several jaw fractures. His pelvis was broken in two places so his little body had to be completely immobilized. It was the worst Christmas in all of our lives.

Todd was in intensive care for over a week never regaining consciousness. He remained in a coma. I was crushed beyond belief. Why did this precious little boy have to go through all this? It just wasn’t fair. Why didn’t I get up with him that morning when he pestered me so?

So many questions with so little to console my feelings of guilt. He was placed in his own private room at St. Benedicts after his release from intensive care. There was nothing more to do but sit and wait. I prayed day and night for Todd’s recovery.

Saturday was our visiting day. I would talk to him and read to him and joke with him always hoping that I would get a response from him but never even an eyelash flutter. Mom and Dad would do the same but in their hearts they would never have their Todd back.

Todd had been in the coma two years when my parents made a startling announcement. We were in the living room of our home having one of those family discussions, "Irene honey," my father began. " Your mother and I have decided that it is time to let Todd go."

"NO!" I jumped up from my seat and yelled. "No, you are not going to let Todd die. He will be back, I know he will. You can’t just give up on him."

"Irene dear the doctors don’t hold out any hope and the longer we wait the bigger chance of his turning into a vegetable if he does come out of the coma. He would be dependent on everyone for the rest of his life and probably wouldn’t know or remember any of us."

"No dad, I don’t believe that. He KNOWS when I am there. I just know he does and one day he will wake up. I am SURE of it. You can’t do this. Please Dad, Please Mom don’t do this!" I was crying huge tears as I spoke. How could they even consider this? I was determined not to let this happen.

"When he comes out of this, I don’t care if he IS a vegetable. I will take care of him. You don’t have to worry about it."

"Honey, that is not the point," my Dad continued. "It is cruel to let him go on like this. Wouldn’t it be better to let him go in peace so we can remember the wonderful little boy he was before this terrible accident? Or would it be better to let him suffer through life not knowing?"

"Dad, I don’t care. He is my brother and I love him and I don’t care what it takes I will be here for him. Please tell me you will reconsider. Please Dad, if you love me you will not do this right now."

"Ok dear, you win. At least for the time being. We will see how things go."

I collapsed back on the couch cupping my face in my hands as my tears filled them. I couldn’t stop crying thinking of loosing my little Todd. I wanted him back and I knew one day my prayers would be answered.

My visits to the hospital became more frequent now. I usually went there after school at least three times a week. I knew deep in my heart that one of these visits I would walk into his room and see him sitting up on his bed smiling at me.

It was now only two weeks before Christmas. This would be the sixth Christmas without my Toddy waking me up bright and early on Christmas morning. It is harder now than ever. Christmas just isn’t the same anymore. I don’t think it ever will be until he is home with us once again.

"Irene! It is time to go NOW."

"I’m coming Mom". We lived 12 miles from the hospital and it was always a somber drive. Once inside Todd’s room I walked to his side and leaned close to his ear.

"Look Todd, look what I brought you," I said as I shook the bell in front of him that I bought at the store on my way to the hospital. "I will never be farther than this bell. All you have to do is shake it when you wake up and I will come as fast as I can. I love you Toddy and I will never give up hope that you will be back home. Never forget that little brother. I love you."

I gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek and went into the hall so Mom and Dad could have their time with him. I miss him so. He has been in this hospital for so long and I keep praying day and night that he will be able to come home soon.

Christmas morning I woke up to a beautiful snow fall outside my bedroom window. It was 10am and no one was awake yet. I didn’t feel like going downstairs yet so I just sat and stared out the window. Another year without Todd. Will I ever get used to this? He is now almost eleven years old. What fun he would be having right now. He probably wouldn’t still believe in Santa but he would be so much fun.

Downstairs the tree was filled with gifts. Some for me, some for Mom, some for Dad and of course as always the many gifts for Todd. Mom never opened his presents and always put them away for the next year. "One day," Mom would say, "Todd will be able to open all these presents and know that he was not forgotten each year." Even though Todd had outgrown most of the presents, she still wanted him to have something under the tree and always saved them for the next year in the hopes that he would be home to open them.

I could hear footsteps in the hall so decided it was time to get up and join my parents for breakfast. I grabbed my jeans and threw on my baggy sweatshirt and headed downstairs. I could smell the aroma of fresh brewed coffee coming from the kitchen.

"Merry Christmas Irene," my father said as I entered the kitchen.

"Merry Christmas to you too Dad. Mom, breakfast smells wonderful".

"Thank you dear",Mom replied as I sat in my usual chair.

"I hope you like what you are getting for Christmas. After breakfast we will open all the gifts." Tears welled up in Mom’s eyes as they always did when it was getting close to gift opening time. She hasn’t enjoyed the holidays in so long. I felt so sorry for her. How hard she tried to cover her sadness. I envied her strength.

After clearing the table we all gathered in front of the blazing fireplace and Dad began to sort out the presents. Todd’s were set in a corner.

I gently opened one marked "To Irene with all our love, Mom and Dad". Inside was a beautiful teardrop opal necklace on a silver chain. I gasped at its beauty and Dad, smiling asked if he could put it on me.

As the clasp tightened he gave me a gentle hug and said, "I love you sweetheart. You have made your mother and me so proud." I smiled up at him with tears in my eyes. I loved my father so much.

I started to open another gift from my parents when suddenly the phone started ringing. "I’ll get it," my father said as he headed into the hall to get the call.

"That must be your Grandparents. They always want to beat us to the call on Christmas morning," my mother said with a chuckle.

Dad came back into the room, a stunned look on his face. I had never seen him look like that. He was frozen and close to what looked like passing out.

"Daniel, what’s wrong?" mother said. "Who was that on the phone?"

My father didn’t answer. "Dad?" I said. "Dad, what is it?"

"That was the hospital." My mother and I both jumped up at the same time. He was crying like a little baby now. "They said …..the night nurse said that she heard some noise coming from Todd’s room. She went in and Todd was ringing the bell that was on his night stand". My father collapsed in his chair and couldn’t stop crying.

I ran to my room as fast as I could, grabbed my purse and screamed to my parents to hurry up, we had to get to the hospital. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Was it possible? Was Todd waking up? A Christmas Miracle this would truly be. Please God, let it be so. Let this be the day my brother comes back to me.

It seemed like hours to drive that short 12 miles to the hospital and the snow that was falling had gotten stronger which made it even worse. My dad came to a screeching halt in front of the hospital and I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. I ran down the corridor to Todd’s room and ran inside. There was my little brother shaking that bell for all it was worth. The doctor and nurses were all about him changing IV’s and taking his vitals.

I ran up to his side and in a weak, childlike voice I could hear my precious brother say, "Renee! Renee! Wake up! Santa has been here."

Copyright 1999 Lady Kree



copyright 2000 - 2002 Kree's Kreations
No duplication of this set is permitted.