Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Christmas in New York

"You know what I've always wanted to do mum?"
Johnathan looked over at me while I made his bed. He was sitting in his favorite place by the bedroom window, a travel magazine in hand.
"What is it that you've always wanted to do jonah?"
He ran his palm tentatively over the glossy cover and with a smile replied "I've always wanted to travel mum. There are some places I've always wanted to visit. One most of all. Do you think we could do that sometime?"
I gave him a huge smile and hugged him tight.
"Mum! I'm serious. Look...New York. That's my favorite place! Could we visit during Christmas mum? Christmas in New York!" He opened the mag and showed me the picture of a splendidly lil up Rockefeller Centre.
"Well well! Christmas is almost 4 months away!" I laughed.
Then i gave him another hug and left the room. As I glanced back I saw Jonahs shoulders droop. He let out a short sigh and closed the magazine. Then he turned toward the bedroom window and looked out for a long while.
I felt my heart strings jerk. It was not exactly sadness but more to do with unfulfillment. Jonah rarely asked for anything. From when he was a tot he was happy with the toys and games my husband and i gave him. He must be the only kid in the history of kids to sleep off at the toy store. And if we said no to something he would just smile and say "Ok mum". Now my little boy had finally asked for something. I just wished it wasn't so huge.
In bed that night I turned to Russel and told him of Jonahs wish. Russel was moved himself albeit our circumstances.
"Honey,  I really want to do this for Jonah. I just don't know how. You know how everything is"
"I understand Russel. But the look on his face. I couldn't take it."
We both went to sleep rather uneasy and upset.  An entire week went by and Jonah hadn't asked to travel again. He seemed awfully withdrawn though. He stopped playing with his brother and sister Nate and Christina. A talkative 8 year old, he rarely spoke now. He preferred to sit by the bedroom window and glance out occasionally flipping through travel books and magazines.

I became used to sitting up with worry till the wee hours, wondering what I could do to change my boys life. Sometimes Russel would make me a mug of hot chocolate and worry along with me.

One evening Russel came home looking extremely excited. "I know what we can do for Jonah!" He said the moment I opened the door for him. His happiness was contagious. He sat me on our couch and described to me a plan that was forget epic, it was way beyond! "But Russel! This is such a huge operation! How do we go about everything? We need so much help honey."
"Would you believe it was Kevin and Dorothy at office who gave me this idea? Everyone's going to pitch in. So we needed worry about a thing!"
Russel is an engineer. He had started a construction company along with 5 of his trusted friends and they were doing quite well for themselves. I was an interior designer till the little ones came in.

Despite how well the plan was thought out, I remained skeptical. This would require weeks and weeks of planning.  Ever positive Russel said we would have his colleagues meet over at the office to discuss "Project Ho! Ho! Ho!" (Trust Russel to come up with the corniest name ever!)  Almost every night. If this worked out, it would be nothing short of a miracle!

Weeks rolled into months. The idea slowly turned to reality. Every single person on the project worked like it was a labor of love for their own child. Their love and care almost always choked me up. We aimed on delivering the surprise on Christmas Eve. Johnathan seemed to have forgotten the very idea of New York and the Rockefeller Centre. He was pretty much back to being the old Jonah much to our relief.

Christmas week came in all white and snowy. The weather turned nasty for a couple of days with an onslaught of hail but other than that it was a good enough winter. The kids were bundled off to my sister Coras for about 2 days to return right on time for Christmas Eve. We were all so excited about the project! We couldn't wait to see Jonahs face when we finally revealed it to him!

Cora called up on Christmas Eve and said that Jonah had been rather upset since morning. She knew about our big surprise and couldn't wait to see the smile on his face herself. As predicted, Jonah was in a stupor most of the time. He hardly acknowledged anyone. Ate his meals in silence and went up to bed and slept the sleep of the sad.

At around 9 at night, I woke up Jonah. "So you want to go to New York eh? See the Rockafeller centre hmmm?" I asked him
Jonah didn't speak. He just looked over at the window.
"Make a wish Jonah. Wish for it." I urged.
"Are you making fun of me mum?" His eyes filled with diluted anger.
"No honey. Wish for it. Go ahead!"
"Fine mum. I wish I could be in New York for Christmas."
I smiled real wide.
 "Wish granted my baby" I said and slowly took him out of bed and dressed him in his warmest clothes. The whole house seemed silent as I took him downstairs and led him toward our backyard.
Jonah kept asking what I was doing, where we were going, but I didn't utter a word. When we reached the back door I closed his eyes with my hands and slowly opened them as he stepped into our backyard.

"MERRY CHRISTMAS JONAH!!" Jonah almost fell over. I couldn't tell if it was the sound or the lights or the utter shock of it all. It took a few minutes for everything to sink in.
Jonahs startled gaze swept the crowd of friends and family, the gaily lit and extremely familiar lights and decorations and finally settled on "Project Ho! Ho! Ho!" An exact replica of The Rockafeller Centre! Right in the middle of our backyard.
His lips parted and eyes welled up as he slowly made his way forward taking in every detail of a work of art.

He gazed up at the christmas tree (we settled for a 7 foot one of course!) flanked on both sides by golden angels.  Scores of twinkly lights bedecked the sky and our pool that had frozen over was turned into the ice rink at the centre.
Jonah turned toward me and said "Mum! I got my wish! I'm in New York!!"
A roar of happiness shook the night air! Hugs, kisses and sincere notes of appreciation did their rounds. Russel picked up Jonah and kissed him. Mugs of hot chocolate and cookies were passed around while snow fell softly around us.
Our kids had snowball fights and made snow angels all over the yard. Umpteen number of pictures were clicked. Jonathans smile was a vision of delight. He kept rushing toward the replica and running his hands through the decorations. I have never seen my little boy so thrilled. We had a quick dinner inside the house. Some roasted turkey, potatoes,  cranberry sauce topped off with an oozy decadent chocolate pudding; all of Jonahs favorites.
At midnight we all sat around our little masterpiece and sang carols until jonah fell fast asleep on my lap. This time he slept the sleep of the content. After we tucked him in, wr hugged our precious friends and family good bye with all the warmth in our hearts and thanked them over and over for making Jonahs wish come true.
"Thank you for the labor of love Dorothy" I hugged her
"It was never labor darling. It was just love!"
I slept beside Jonah till dawn.

Jonah succumbed to the cancer ravaging him a month later. At his funeral we wept bitterly. But mixed in with our sorrow were tears of joy. For we knew Jonah left us at his happiest  and we were able to grant our dying son his one true wish. A Christmas in New York.

*fiction written for the British Airways "Go further to get closer" contest on Indiblogger.
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