Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No. 30: So This Is Christmas

December 21st
“No, I can definitely handle two Christmases,” I said as I stood in front of the mirror trying to do something with my hair.

“I just don’t want you to be stretched too thin,” Krista came up behind me and wrapped her arms around my waist. “You have to drive a hundred miles to my family Christmas.”

“My family has Christmas on Christmas Eve and your family doesn’t do Christmas until Christmas evening. Plenty of time to do both,” I turned around in her arms and smiled at her. “Nothing can stop me from spending Christmas with you.”
I leaned in and kissed her. I stroked her soft brown hair as she moved her hands along my back.

“We need to go,” Krista said, pulling away. “I need to get to work and you need to…do whatever it is you do during the day,” she smiled, giggling slightly.

“Okay,” I kissed her again. “I will see you this evening.”

We got dressed and left her apartment. Krista headed to work while I went to the comic book store where my friend, Neal, and his wife, Samantha, worked. The store wasn’t open yet but the door was unlocked and Neal and Sam were in the backroom.

“You guys doing it back here?” I yelled as I entered the room.

“No. We finished about twenty minutes ago,” Neal said.

Neal was shaved bald but had a full beard. Sam was short and kind of chubby with long brown hair and large breasts. She always wore some form of black clothing. Today, it was a black sundress. “What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I want to propose to Krista,” I said.

Sam got up and hugged me. She squealed, which was a sound I had never heard come from her before. “Oh my God! I am so happy for you!”

Neal shook my hand. “Congratulations, man,” he said.

“Well, I haven’t proposed yet but I wanted to tell somebody and since you two are my best friends I figured it might as well be you,” I said.

“Do you have a ring picked out yet?” Sam asked.

“No. Me and Joan are going out when I get home and find something,” I replied.

“You and Joan? You’re not even going to ask one of your closest friends to go ring shopping with you?” Sam complained.

“Well, no offense but you don’t really have the right...taste, yeah that’s the word, for jewelry.”

“What are you talking about?” Sam asked.

I looked at her ring, a silver titanium ring with moon and star shaped holes, and then at Neal’s ring, a black titanium with skulls and crossbones on it. “Are you serious?” I asked her.

Joan was my roommate who moved in after Neal moved out. She was short with curly orange hair, bright blue eyes and slight freckles on her face but her arms, chest and shoulders were covered in them. When I walked in, Joan was sitting in her underwear at the computer. A DVD of Futurama was playing but she wasn’t paying attention to it. I hung up my jacket and looked at Joan. “Ew. Boobs,” I said as I headed down the hallway.

“You love ‘em,” Joan said without looking at me.

After a few minutes, I emerged from the bathroom and went back to the living room.

“You left the toilet seat up.”

“Sorry,” Joan said, still not really paying attention to me.

I turned off the TV. “What time do you have to be at work?”

“Noon, why?” she responded.

“I want us to go ring shopping today so I can pick out Krista’s engagement and wedding ring. You said you’d go with me.”

“That doesn’t sound like something I’d say.”

Well you did. Come on, we have about an hour and a half before you have to be at work.”

Joan growled loudly. “Fine! But I’m only doing this so I can have the apartment to myself when you move in with Krista.”

December 22nd
I showed a couple of the girls at work the ring and their faces lit up. “So you’re really going to do it?” Alexis, a short, freckled, brown haired girl asked.

“Of course. I love her,” I replied. “So you think it’s a good ring?”

“It’s beautiful. She’ll love it,” Jennifer said.

“It was so hard not to propose this evening but I’m waiting for Christmas Day when we’re at her parent’s house,” I said.

“You’re proposing on Christmas?” Tom asked from behind me. “Proposing on a holiday. Are you going to get married in June?”

“How would I know that? Krista doesn’t even know I’m proposing,” I said, turning to Tom.

“It just seems so cliché,” he sneered.

“Thank you for your opinion, Tom. Shouldn’t you get back to work?”

“I’m on break.”

“Of course.”

“Ignore him,” Jennifer said. “I think it’s romantic. Krista is lucky to have you.”

“I can be romantic, too,” Tom began. “I just don’t see the point of it at this juncture of my life.”

“Yeah. But even when you are romantic, you’re still a huge jerk,” I said.

“Maybe I’ll be all romantic with your mom!” Tom retorted.

“All right. Let me know how that goes,” I sighed and went back to my work.

I was still asleep in Krista’s bed when she came home at six. She woke me up by shaking me softly. “Hey, you,” I said as I stretched.

“I love seeing you sleeping in my bed,” Krista smiled. “Hey, my boss gave me my Christmas bonus so I thought we could grab some dinner.”

“Sounds good. Let me take a shower and we can head out,” I stretched again and sat up. “How was work?”

“It was good. How was your day?”

“Pretty boring. I went to bed right after you left and have been asleep ever since.”

“Must be nice to sleep all day,” Krista got into bed next to me.

“It is but I still have to be up all night. If only I had a woman with a good job to take care of me, I’d quit my job and focus on my art.”

“Your art?”

“Yes. Writing to TV show producers and telling them how to make their shows better,” I said, chuckling.

“You’re a regular humanitarian hope,” Krista kissed me. “You should get in the shower so we can get to dinner and still have time afterward before you have to go to work.”

“Are you going to join me in the shower?” I winked.

“No,” she said as she smiled “that’s why I want plenty of time after dinner.”

December 23rd
When I returned home from work the next morning I could hear Joan in her bedroom. I went into my bedroom, shut the door and turned on the TV to try to drown her out. I changed from what I wore to work into my boxers and large shirt and laid down in bed. I dozed off within half an hour.

Some time in the afternoon I was awakened by my phone ringing. I reached over and answered it. “Hello?”

“Sorry if I woke you,” it was my aunt “but Grandpa’s in the hospital. He’s had a stroke. We’re in the emergency room right now if you want to head over here.”

“Okay,” I yawned. “I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

My Grandpa had been in and out of the hospital the last two years or so after suffering a stroke. My Grandma passed away about three years ago and after that my Grandpa seemed lost—didn’t really know what to do. He tried reuniting with old friends, seeing family he hadn’t seen in a long time and even started this woman he knew from when he was a teenager. Then he had his first stroke which the entire family considered with a punishment from my Grandma for attempting to date again.
I got dressed and headed to the hospital where my entire family was waiting in the emergency room. “What’s going on?”

“They just got him stable but he’s still unconscious. They’re going to move him up to a room in a little bit. They think he had a massive stroke and a series of small strokes. It doesn’t look too good,” my aunt said. My uncle, who had been staying with my Grandpa since his stroke, forced himself to hold back tears.

My family and I waited in the ER waiting room for a few more minutes until a nurse walked over to us. “We have your father moved into a room. He’s not awake but you can go up and see him,” she handed my aunt a piece of paper and we went together to the elevator and up to Grandpa’s room.

We walked in and saw Grandpa lying in bed, completely still, looking like a ghost rather than the man we knew. My aunt and Mom gasped and my uncle finally let a tear go. A nurse came in behind us. “Are you all family?” she asked.

We all nodded.

“Have you decided what you all want to do?” the nurse asked.

“What do you mean?” my aunt asked.

“Resuscitation. Do you want to sign a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order?”

“Why?” my aunt was confused. “He could wake up. Couldn’t he?”

“It is possible but it doesn’t look good. I’ll send in the doctor and he can go over it with you.”

“I think we should do it,” my uncle said.

“But there is still a chance he could wake up and be able to eat and breathe on his own,” my aunt said.

“I just don’t think he would want to live like this. I’m just trying to decide what’s best,” my uncle broke down and began crying.

I arrived back at home; Joan was either still at work or out. I began searching the kitchen to find something to eat when my phone rang. “Hello?”

“Are you coming by before I leave?” Krista asked. “I’m leaving in a few minutes.”

“Oh, God. I completely forgot. My Grandpa’s in the hospital and I spaced out on everything today. I haven’t eaten since my lunch hour last night at work,” I said.

“Your Grandpa’s in the hospital? Is he going to be okay?” she asked.
I shrugged even though I knew she couldn’t see it. “Probably not. We signed a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ order so it could be a matter of hours or he could last days.”

“So you’re not coming to my parent’s Christmas are you?” Krista asked.

I was silent for a while then answered, “Probably not. I should stay here just in case he goes.”

“I understand. I’m going to miss you. And my family is going to miss you,” Krista said. “I’ll text you when I get down there. I love you.”

“I love you too,” I replied. I closed the refrigerator door and went into my bedroom and tried to nap before I had to go to work.

December 24th / December 25th
Like we have for years before, my family celebrated Christmas together on Christmas Eve. We ate a lot of food and opened our presents to each other. We reminisced about past Christmases and my Grandma and Grandpa. By ten o’clock, I was back in my apartment. Joan was off with her family so it was just me. I stayed up only for a little while before heading to bed. Around 1:30 in the morning, my phone rang.

I reached over and grabbed it. “Hello?” I answered.

“Grandpa passed away,” my Mom sobbed.

I sat up in bed and turned on the lamp next to my bed. “Where are you?” I asked.

“We’re all heading to the hospital. You don’t have to go if you don’t want to,” my Mom said.

“No, I’m heading out now. I should be there in ten minutes. See you there,” I hung up and got up, putting on the same clothes I wore to the family get-together. I began writing a text to Krista but decided against sending it. I left the apartment and drove to the hospital and met my family in front of my Grandpa’s room. There was a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign posted on the door. “Has anyone gone in yet?”

Everyone shook their head.

“The door’s been locked. And we were kind of waiting for you,” my aunt said.

“Are you ready?” a nurse suddenly appeared behind us.

“I guess so,” my aunt said.

The nurse unlocked the door and pushed the door opened. “Please close the door behind you,” she said. “Take your time.”

I was the last one in the room so I shut the door. My Mom, aunt and uncle circled around my Grandpa’s body, still covered up in the bed. The room had been cleaned out and the lights had been dimmed.

“Say ‘hi’ to Mom for me,” my uncle said softly touching Grandpa’s shoulder.

“What are we supposed to do? Do we just leave him here until the morning?” my aunt asked.

“The funeral home should have 24 hour service,” I began. “They should be able to pick up the body tonight.”

We stayed in the room for a few more minutes before leaving. My aunt approached the nurse’s desk and asked for the numbers to a couple of funeral homes.

About an hour later, I was back at home. I lie down in bed and immediately fell asleep waking up about mid-morning and wanting to see Krista. I took a shower, got dressed and grabbed my things and proceeded to drive the hour’s trek to Krista’s parent’s house.

I walked up the porch and knocked then got down on one knee. Krista’s mother answered the door and smiled at me. “Krista, it’s for you.”

She moved away from the door and Krista approached. She saw me down on one knee and beamed, her eyes tearing up. I pulled the ring box out of my pocket and opened it. “Krista, will you marry me?”

Tears started falling. “Yes. Of course I will,” she laughed. She pulled me up. I slid the ring on her finger and kissed her. We pulled away. “What about your grandpa?” she asked.

“He passed away earlier this morning. At around one o’clock,” I replied.

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” Krista hugged me.

“It’s fine. We had our family Christmas. He died on Christmas Day, we have our Christmas on Christmas Eve so I like to think he spent Christmas with us in his own way,” I said.

“Well, I’m glad you were able to come down here,” Krista said and kissed me again. “Merry Christmas.”

“Getting engaged on Christmas?” Krista’s brother began. “Are you going to get married in June?”

I looked at him, “Are you related to a guy named Tom?” I asked.

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