Thousand Reasons Thursdays - A Christmas Eve Surprise!
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
Casey and I both came from large families who all lived within a 60 mile radius of each other. Holidays were always a big production and Christmas was no exception. As family members came to visit or call, there was growing discussion of holiday details and where we fit into the picture. I couldn’t go anywhere. I insisted that Casey be with his family for Christmas Eve, as was tradition. He wouldn’t hear of it. He was not going to leave me alone at Christmas! His undying devotion never ceased to amaze me!!
Mocha Java came into our lives as our first practice “child.” I kept saying, “If we can’t raise a puppy, we have no business raising children.” She was one of the most energetic and crazy Chocolate Labs I had ever known, but so incredibly intelligent - sometimes too much for her own good. She had just turned one about a month before I went into the hospital, and with my being confined to bedrest and Casey's working 8-10 hours a day and sleeping at the hospital, she had gotten very little attention. She was being very destructive at home and in the backyard, which is where she spent the majority of her time. During one of the visits from some church friends, I expressed my concern about the situation in passing. I felt terrible for her. I felt like we were being horrible “pet parents.”
“Hey, did you know Tina is overseeing a nursery in Half Moon Bay? She’s got a little cottage that she lives in, and all that running around space for Mocha would be amazing! She would be so happy there until you can go home!” said Lisa.
The idea sounded perfect! I spoke to Casey about it, and he agreed it would be much better for her than what she had going on now. So, arrangements were made, and Tina picked Mocha up from our house and brought her to live with her in Half Moon Bay until further notice. What a huge burden was lifted from us! We were so thankful for our church family and their support!
I was just slowly crawling back into bed a week later when the phone rang.
“Hi, it’s Tina from church. I have some bad news...um, I’m not sure how to tell you...um, but Mocha’s ran away…we’ve been looking for her, but we can’t find her anywhere on the property. I don’t know how she got out! I’m so sorry!!”
What she didn’t know, that we didn’t know yet, was that Mocha was a master escape artist. She could chew through any fence that you put in front of her.
“Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do! Um, can you call the Shelter and see if anyone’s found her, maybe? Or post signs?”
“Oh, that’s a good idea! I’ll do that next! I know you have enough to worry about, but I thought I should tell you. I didn’t want to with it being so close to Christmas, but don’t worry. We’ll keep looking!” She hung up and I was left staring at the receiver incredulously. Why??? Why do worse and worse things keep happening?!
I cried out to God:
I don’t understand, Lord! Why is all this happening? Did I do something wrong? Am I being punished for something? Is it Casey? Is he being punished, and I just happen to be collateral damage? Please help us! Please help our baby - and I know this may not seem important to You, but please find Mocha!
A few more days crept by, and we didn’t hear a thing from Tina. We couldn’t get a hold of her, and I must had left a dozen messages on her answering machine. I was so sad, and so guilty - and so helpless. The door slowly opened to my room. I thought it was my dinner being brought to me, so I closed my eyes and pretended I was asleep.
“Mrs. Wilson? Mrs. Wilson? I’m sorry to wake you, but you have some visitors...they insist on seeing you.” Just then, Casey came in, having just gotten to the hospital from work. His face was beaming as he said, “Julee, wake up! I have a surprise for you!” He proceeded to explain to me that there was a surprise waiting for me on the first floor of the hospital, and that they figured out how to take me to see it since I couldn’t sit upright in a wheelchair for too long. The door then burst open as two nurses pushed in a gurney and rolled it up parallel to my bed. I was still utterly confused but also excited about the surprise and the opportunity to leave my “jail cell.” We were going on a field trip!!
Once on the gurney, I was wheeled down the long hallway to the elevator. It was strange. I didn’t like people looking at me, wondering what was wrong with me. Was that pity I saw on that woman’s face? Casey was walking beside me, bursting with excitement about his surprise. I couldn’t imagine what it could be. My father owned a limo company in the city and regularly drove local artists and musicians as well as wealthy businessmen from Marin County. Could Gregg Allman be down there?!
The elevator doors opened and I was pushed toward the doors to the hospital parking lot. Were we going in the car somewhere? My mind was reeling with hundreds of ideas and Casey just walked beside me, grinning from ear to ear all the way. Then, I saw them, Tina and Lisa, standing in the doorway, and a loud yelp trumped from between them. Mocha!!!! They had found her!! God is so good. He cares so much about the tiny details of our lives. She broke free from Tina’s grasp and propped her top half up on the gurney to see me. In between licks, I looked at the nurse to see if this was ok, and she gave me a nod of approval. As Tina and Lisa were explaining how they found her, Mocha and I were reuniting - me telling her how much I missed her and what a naughty doggie she was to run away and she licking my face quite clean and working her way up onto the gurney until she was completely stretched out next to me with her head perfectly placed on my shoulder.
Best Christmas present ever! Secret tears trickled down my face with the intensity of mixed emotions I was experiencing. Mocha promptly licked each one away as they fell.
And just as quickly as it happened, it was time to go. It was a special treat that Casey had arranged for me, and we didn’t want the hospital staff to get in trouble. We said quick goodbyes, with Tina reassuring us that Mocha would not get away again, and I was promptly returned to my rightful place in my hospital bed. The festivities were just beginning, as no sooner did I get settled back into bed, but Mom and Dad came in for a visit and a little Christmas Eve cheer before they went to my aunt’s for our traditional Christmas Eve Dinner. We told them about Mocha’s visit and opened some gifts. I was exhausted after such an emotional evening and immediately fell asleep while Casey settled in on his cot beside me, surfing the channels for something good.