I was thirteen years old and in eighth grade. I was a patient in a Maryland children’s hospital, John Hopkins. The hospital was two hundred miles from our home in Virginia, and I had just gone through a series of six operations. I looked forward to going home and that was scheduled a couple of days after Christmas.
So confident of going home was I that I gave my old radio and a stocking of goodies that arrived from a visiting “Santa” to the daughter of a hospital orderly, an African American lady who was facing a bleak Christmas. The look of joy on the woman’s face lit up the room, giving me a beautiful feeling. However, on Christmas morning the rumors started, and in a hospital ward they spread quickly.
A measles epidemic had broken out, and the rumored word was quarantine. It was frightening, since we could be stuck there for weeks. Then my dad came in. My parents arrived late Christmas morning and my mom was downstairs putting together a Christmas dinner for us in the hospital kitchen. Dad saw my tearful face and wanted to know what the matter was. I told him and he said gravely, “Well, the surgeon told us we could call anytime, and I will call him now.”
My dad came back later and looked at me sadly. I asked if I would still get to go home in a few days. My dad replied, “I’m afraid it won’t be next week or even a month from now.” I broke down, and then he hugged me and said, “You are going home now.”
I still get choked up remembering that, and as I am much older, I think of something else. When it is time for me to leave this Earth for Heaven, I know what to expect. Our Lord and Savior will hug me and say, “You’re going home now.”
That is the beautiful promise we were given by the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day.