Gifts of Love is just 99 cents!
Brendan rolled over on Christmas morning and looked at the clock to see the bright red light showing seven thirty. It was later than he imagined since he was normally up earlier when it came to the holidays.
He guessed he was more tired than he thought he was. He couldn’t wait for the day when he didn’t feel like this. Like his body was fighting for every breath to just get up and move. He was hoping today wouldn’t be one of those days, but it seemed not much in his life was going the way he thought it would.
When he walked out of his room and down the stairs, he saw his parents sitting at the small kitchen table drinking coffee. “Morning,” his mother said.
“Merry Christmas,” he said back, looking around for his sister. “Where’s Kat?”
“Sleeping. You know her, once her head hits the pillow she is out like a light.”
“Yeah, but it’s Christmas morning,” he argued.
His younger sister, Katrina, was the most chill eleven-year-old he knew. When she was a toddler she hardly ever cried. If she didn’t get her way, she just strutted away proud as can be like it was her right to not get what she wanted and decided to do something else. Like a cat—and that was when he decided to shorten her name.
His father shrugged. “You can go wake her if you want. I’m sure she’s excited…at least she will be once she stretches and rubs the sleep from her eyes.”
He grinned, turned, and went back up the stairs. When he pushed Kat’s door open he saw that she was almost curled into a ball with the comforter half hanging on the floor. “Wake up, Kat. Santa came.”
She did exactly as his father said, lifted her arms over her head, stretched, her legs straightening, her toes pointing, her mouth twisting in a yawn. “Did Santa really come or are you making it up?”
He figured she probably didn’t believe anymore, but he wasn’t about to ask that and give up the secret if she did.
She stood up and stretched one more time, then followed him down the stairs. They were both wearing their new Christmas pajamas that they opened the night before, a tradition his parents had done for as long as he could remember.
“You know I wouldn’t tell you something that wasn’t true. There are gifts under the tree from Santa.”
“I believe you,” she said, running past him and down the stairs. There were the energy and excitement she showed when she wanted to.
Brendan jogged down after her. Trying to fight back how tired he’d just gotten, he sucked in a bit of air, his heart racing, then sat down on the floor while his sister looked around at the boxes.
“Are you okay?” his mother asked.
“I’m fine. Just got winded a bit. You know how it gets. It will pass.”
“I’m sure it will,” his mother said, always one to humor him. He’d like it to pass permanently. Soon, he knew. Not much longer before he had surgery to fix his heart.
Was he scared? Shit yeah. No fifteen-year-old wanted to have their chest cracked open and their heart exposed, but he knew he’d be fine after, so it was best to get it over with.
He looked around under the tree hoping to see some new video games. It seemed like that was all he did with his time since it was discovered he had aortic stenosis a few years ago. He was most likely born with it, though he never showed symptoms.
Then all of a sudden he got active in sports and found he was tired more than he should be. A routine physical showed a heart murmur. He was watched and continued to play sports, but everything got worse. That was when all the tests were done, the procedures and such.
Nothing was working and as a last resort he was having valve replacement surgery in two months.
It wasn’t what he wanted to think about right now. Instead he was looking forward to what was on his wish list.
What he wanted was a gaming computer. He had a Playstation and an Xbox. He had no care for a Wii, but his big wish was the computer.
The problem with that…a good one was thousands of dollars and his parents already spent enough money on his medical bills. He couldn’t ask them for something as expensive as that.
His hope was that he could get a job when he turned sixteen to add to the money he was putting away from all the holidays. Then he could buy one himself.
Kat was now ripping into her gifts. New clothes, jewelry, a few board games, and books. She was easy to please and all girl. Princesses and frilly things were right up her alley.
Once the living room resembled a war zone of red, green, and Santa paper, his father handed him another small box. “One more thing.”
“Who is this from?” he asked, not seeing a name on it.
“Just open it and you will see.”
Kat turned to watch while he opened it up and saw the letter from Make A Wish Foundation. No way. It couldn’t be. He’d applied a while ago, never thinking he’d get it.
He read the letter, felt his eyes fill up with tears and wasn’t even the least bit embarrassed over it.
“Are you getting your computer?” Kat asked.
“No,” he said, looking at her, then his parents. “We’re going to Disney.”
Kat screeched and started to jump around the room. Disney wasn’t his first choice, though he enjoyed a good ride like the next person. He was all about Epcot and special effects at the movie studios. But this trip wasn’t for him, it was for his family.
So much time, energy, money, and emotions were spent on him and it was time to give back for all that everyone sacrificed. He was getting a new lease on life, and with it, he was going to pay back his family.
So he did the one thing he could. He was giving his parents a vacation and his sister a chance to spend some time with princesses.
The joy on everyone’s face made up for not asking for his gaming computer. And when they went in a few months and he saw them all smiling, it would be the best trip of his life.