The sounds of instrumental Christmas music played softly in the hall. He wished they would stop. He had no real excitement for Christmas this year. He just wanted to crawl under the covers and stay there. However, he knew if Missy came over; she’d get mad to see him still in bed.
‘Hey there!’ Jimmy turned around and saw Missy with a huge shopping bag. ‘I’ve been shopping! The stores are mobbed! Now I need a cup of hot cocoa and a warm blanket. I asked for the cocoa to be sent up. Now, to open one of these bags.’ Missy got busy looking into the bags.
Jimmy shook his head. ‘You talk so fast ! You snap your fingers and things happen.’
She looked up and frowned. ‘Well, I always talk too much. You should be used to it by now.’ She fished around in a large bag and pulled out two fleece blankets. ‘Here, I thought you would like this one.’ The blanket had a photo of Elmer Fudd with a Santa hat on it. There were words too. ‘You must be berry quiet!’
Jimmy smiled. ‘Cute’ What’s yours?’
Missy grinned and opened up her blanket. There was snowflakes and Charlie Brown characters on ice skates with the caption ‘Fa la la la la’ She waited to see if Jimmy remembered. His smile told her yes. ‘You always loved that cartoon! I remember you playing with their figurines on the mantelpiece’
She nodded and slipped off her boots. Her warm socks came off and she began wiggling her toes. Jimmy was surprised that she still preferred going barefoot. Her tiny feet soon were bundled into the blanket as she sat on the bed. ‘Come on over and I’ll tell you the story of Christmas’
‘No thanks, oh look the cocoa is here.’ A staff member brought in two steaming mugs. ‘Here you go! Enjoy!’ She left in a hurry.
Missy was groping around in another bag. She brought out a box of Christmas cookies. ‘Here we are! I’m famished, let’s chow down!’
The air in the room seemed to vibrate when Missy walked in. Jimmy’s gloom went away as he sipped his hot cocoa and munched on cookies. Missy opened the curtains and they sat in silence watching the falling snow.
After a while Missy got up again and went to yet another bag. She took out a prelit and decorated one foot Christmas tree. ‘We won’t have gifts this year but I thought this would be nice.’ She began talking about their life together as children. They laughed for over three hours over memories of Christmas spent years ago.
Jimmy found himself choking up. He coughed to hide it. This little lady had gone to so much trouble just for him. He had nothing to offer back. He was a mess.
‘Thank you Missy.’ He reached out and held her close to him. Her hair smelled like strawberries and cream. She had on a soft pink sweater and jeans but to him she looked like a princess. ‘Will you be around for Christmas? It’s three weeks away.’
‘I told you that I can take off all the time I want. I want to be with you!’ She picked up another cookie and dunked it into her cocoa. ‘Got a problem with it?’
He looked at her and wished to hold her again. She was still his Missy. ‘I think that’s the best gift I could get.’ His eyes teared up and he turned away from her.
Missy had been warned that Jimmy got very emotional at times. She schooled her own emotions so as not to overwhelm him. ‘How I do love this man.’ she thought. ‘I still think he and I were meant to be but I’d better not go there just yet.’
It was past time for Jimmy’s meds and he began to get antsy. Once again, Missy watched for the signs. ‘Well, it’s getting really late and I’m not fond of driving in the dark. Give me a kiss and I’ll see you tomorrow.’
Jimmy grabbed for her a little harder than normal. ‘Missy’ he rasped, ‘I am trying to get back to normal. I really am.’
She reached up and touched his face. ‘I know. One day at a time. One hour, one minute, one second. I love you!’
He looked down at her innocent face. He reached down and kissed her forehead. He held her again and then let go.’
She nodded and left with her bags. She was glad she didn’t have to speak because her throat had choked up. She was able to get into her car before the tears came. After she had gone, Jimmy picked up the blanket. He sat in his chair hugging the blanket until the nurse came with his meds.
He had a pounding headache and lay back down. His dreams were relentless. At first he was going down hill skiing with Missy. The snow suddenly turned into sand and Missy was gone. In her place were the men who had died. They stood watching but not speaking. Suddenly an explosion. The nurse found him in a sweat and hollering a few hours later.
At 1 a.m. Jimmy was calm enough to get out of bed and eat. Two male nurses were making his bed and later helped him shower and back to bed. One of the male nurses left but the other stayed. ‘Jimmy, you had a good visit with that young lady today.’
Jimmy nodded. ‘I’m glad she left before I blew it. She shouldn’t be here.’
‘She has no idea what it’s like here. She could get hit by a stray bullet or land mine. Anything could happen.’
The male nurse realized that Jimmy was mixing up reality with the past trauma. This meant that he’d need to be watched all night.
The next day Missy went to the hospital and was told that Jimmy was hallucinating. She stepped into his room slowly. A male nurse was in the room. No female nurses would care for him until he came out of it. Jimmy suddenly turned around to her. To her horror he screamed obscenities at her and blamed her for the explosion. He had no idea where he was, or who she was. He suddenly threw the little tree at her.
She was hit in the head. The male nurse grabbed Jimmy just as he was ready to punch her. ‘Quick, get him before he gets away! We need to question him!’ he yelled. She quickly left his room and ran down the hall. Two orderlies were going into his room as she turned to get on the elevator.
Her pulse was racing, and she trembled. A nurse came by and spoke to her. ‘You need to let me take a look at that.’ She walked Missy into another room. Missy hadn’t realized that her head was bleeding profusely. The nurse spoke calmly to her and gave her hope. ‘You are Jimmy’s friend?’ She nodded. ‘Don’t let this keep you away. Since your visits, he has been doing much better. This is his first bad spell in a long time.’
‘Is,’ Missy coughed to get her voice, ‘is it like this when he is off?’ The nurse nodded. ‘He can get violent, yes. It’s why he’s here. The meds help him relax but the best medicine is for him to talk. He goes to group sessions each day. Yet, talking to you has done enormous good for him. He is starting to smile again, he reads a bit now, he is eating better. Little steps to be sure, but he is slowly making a turn for the better. That’s why I hope you will come back.’
Missy sat up straight. ‘Nothing can keep me away.’ That night Missy called Jimmy's parents and her Aunt to ask them to pray. Jimmy's parents called the church leadership and a prayer chain was started. 'Greater is He who's within me" kept going through Missy's head. She would not succumb to fear but through love she would help Jimmy. God's touch would heal him, Missy's faith was in her Savior.