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This changed my life, why I’ll savor the holidays

By Amitha Verma

Thanksgiving week is here!

Bring on the fun, stretchy pants and maybe a little anxiety.

I’m getting my checklist done today, to overcome some of the overwhelm and stress that often comes along with the holiday season.

In the past, I used to procrastinate like crazy! It was kind of like a rush, trying to get it all done in time for Turkey day…cue the James Bond music.

And then 2 years ago, a life changing moment came into my and Bobby’s life, my husband of 16 years this Thursday.

What started out as an ordinary day on a gleeful family trip, turned into every parent’s worst, most horrific nightmare.

I want to share this story with you today because it changed me and what I do during the holidays. Why I love them so much, and why I share so many tips with you on how to enjoy them.

I’ve always loved the holiday season and all that it represents - love, hope, kindness, gratitude, giving, peace, and so much more, since I was but a wee little girl.

I would decorate our entire house with whatever limited resources I had! My creativity had no bounds, even if all I had at my disposal was a spool of gold and white holiday ribbon.

It was my love language to my family, and my bliss.

Then two years ago, what happened made me truly want to savor every magical moment of the holiday season with my family.

We were on the way to our dear friend’s wedding over July 4 to Banff, Canada. My hubby was very excited as he grew up nearby and couldn’t wait to take us to his beautiful hometown.

We landed in Calgary, had dinner and went to bed, planning on getting an early head start on our one-hour drive to Banff.

At 6am, Rohan, started telling us his body was aching. Specifically, under his arms, and under his knees. He was shivering and could not warm up.

Rohan, our oldest son, has always had what I call fragile health. He was very sick as a baby and for the most part Bobby and I always hovered over him.

Knowing he tends to get very sick easily, my husband immediately took him straight to the doctor’s office at 8am.

We thought he might have picked up a cold during our travels and were both expecting the doctor to send us home with some cold medicine.

What happened next put us in a panicked tailspin.

The doctor immediately sent him straight to the hospital.

My heart was pounding to what I am sure was 150 beats per minute.

The hospital? What?

We rushed over.

There, not one but several doctors came in to see what was wrong.

My hubby had gone back to the hotel to get our other son, Dayven, while I was waiting to get the results.

I was just sitting there ringing my hands not knowing what to do. If you’ve ever experienced this, as a mother there is nothing worse.

I’ve been at the hospital side by my husband and my mom in the past, but this was something different, an anxiety and pain like no other. Rohan had actually been hospitalized before in the past, but in my gut I knew this was not good.

I was so frightened, and just frozen.

Rohan was fading in and out. He could not stand the pain and no matter how many blankets they put on him he could not warm up.

When the doctor came, I could not have even imagined what he was going to say to me.

He said it was an emergency and they quickly had to transfer Rohan to the Calgary Children’s Hospital.

What?

He was fine the day before, excited to go to the wedding and hoping to see moose and deer and bears in Calgary! What?!

So they did.

They transferred him around noon.

And there it started all over again, the doctors, the questions, the labs, the waiting.

During this time, Rohan started getting what looked like burns all over his body.

The pain was unbearable, and the doctors had to give him morphine to help manage his pain.

My 8-year-old baby boy was suffering beyond words.

I called my Daddy and my Brother, both of whom are cardiologists.

My Dad suspected it was a very deadly type of staph infection and urged me to have the doctors put him on the strongest antibiotics available.

He impressed upon me, this was urgent, and we could not delay. Now.

The hospital told me that was not their protocol, we had to wait.

And so, we did, we had no other option.

It was towards midnight, when the doctors came in.

I’ll never forget the doctors telling Bobby and me, “We’re not sure what this is. There may be nothing we can do for Rohan.”

What? It was as if I went into a tunnel and their voices were light years away.

No. This could not be real, were my thoughts.

Not at all. We are here for a wedding not for me to lose my first born child, one of my soulmates, one of the greatest loves of my life.

The baby we cared for day in and day out during his many sick days and nights.

Our baby with his brilliant sparkling eyes, and a kind heart, and creativity beyond words.

There are no words to express the feelings I experienced in that moment. It was as if I was I in one of those cartoons where the metal ton is crushing down on the character. A weight and pain I could not bear.

I could have collapsed.

Tears were pouring down my face.

No. No. No.

And then the mama lion in me came out and said NO, we are not thinking that way.

Perception is reality and the only reality we were going to accept, is trying everything to get him better.

The doctors started him on the medicine my Dad had suggested 12 hours earlier.

The doctors said if it worked in 24 hours, we’d see the results and know.

24 hour passed, and nothing had changed. I prayed. My hubby and I had not slept in days just sitting there looking at him, praying, crying, praying and waiting.

We could not even hold his hands he was in so much pain.

Bobby’s parents flew into Calgary and sat with us.

We prayed and waited and waited. 24 hours later, we still could not see any improvement.

But we never gave in to the thoughts that we’d lose him.

Then, finally, by the Grace of God, he started showing signs of improvement.

Hallelujah, our prayers had been answered!

He was still very weak, with burns all over him but he was getting better by some miracle.

Relief poured through my veins. Soon I’d take my baby home. All I was doing was planning our return home.

We spent many days in that hospital and sadly saw families and children that didn’t have the same outcome.

We’ve all heard about loss but until you see it and feel it, it’s almost just on the periphery.

This was the reality for so many families. My heart was broken for all of these families and gave me a new sense of appreciation for the time I have with my two boys.

Eventually, after about a week at the hospital, the doctor cleared us to get back to Houston so we could transfer him to Texas Children’s or stay home if he was better.

I was in shock for many, many months after.

I could barely go to work, barely go out with friends, family, I could barely do anything.

The doctors told me, anyone could have picked this up. His immune system just wasn’t strong enough to fight it.

That baffled me, I thought, how could I protect my child?

I kept Rohan in a bubble and stayed in it with him for most of the rest of the year.

He wasn’t allowed to go anywhere that would exert him and honestly he stayed in bed until school started that year.

Bunny has been with Rohan since the day he was born. 

His birthday is in November, and this year is on Thanksgiving. I call him my Turkey Baby.

That year, while sick, and resting in bed, he asked me “Mima, can you make me a big birthday party at home? With your pretty Christmas trees, like the North Pole?”

Huh? I thought? My mind was nowhere near thinking of decorating or hosting anything.

But my baby asked.

That woke me up.

It was as if he shook me by the shoulders.

I was living in those moments of fear and panic from the hospital. I had shut out our entire family down in this bubble of not living.

So, I did as my baby asked.

That year our house looked like the North Pole.

Rohan getting the tree ready

Candy canned lights wrapped around our columns, Christmas trees everywhere, ornament making, Gingerbread house making, you name it, I did it.

It was magical, inspiring, nostalgic and gave us all, incredible warm memories!

My husband, usually beyond frugal said nothing.

He too we wanted to create the most magical holiday for Rohan, and his brother Dayven, and for all of their little buddies.

To this day, Rohan and his friends reminisce on that year’s holiday fun, all of which hubby and I are happy to have created for them.

It started a new tradition for us, where we slow down.

We savor these days off with our boys and instead of surfing through them, we deeply enjoy the days and nights.

We make, we craft, we watch Hallmark movies, we sing, we cook, we have friends over, we celebrate with family and we cherish every single moment.

 We truly cherish, plan and enjoy every single moment.

Movie watching, Dayven, Misha our terribly misbehaved pet that we love and adore, Hubby Bobby and Rohan

Devan & Rohan Making

I know in just a short few years, my boys will have their own life, and I am so thrilled for the chance we had to make and create so many beautiful moments with them, especially during the holiday season.

Not a real martini! A beautiful cake made by Rohan & Dayven, Rohan & Misha

Rohan ended up getting better and stronger. I still keep him in a bit of a bubble. He hasn’t gone to overnight camp yet or on a long trip without us, but I’m learning to let him fly little by little.

That experience as difficult and heart-wrenching as it was, I’m still crying writing you this today, changed me for the better in more ways than I can express.

So as I sign off to celebrate the holidays with my family I want to wish you the same incredible blessings I received out of this experience.

The blessing of learning to slowing down and to cherish these festive moments with your loved ones. And third, to do the things you love to inspire others. Your gifts, whatever they may be will surely bring joy into someone’s life.

I’m beyond grateful to have this holiday season with my family.

And I’m grateful you have been a part of our shared journey of creating heart in the home.

I love to teach you all about table settings, runners, décor, ornaments and so much more, but just remember there’s only one rule – let it come from your heart.

Wishing you a joyous Thanksgiving!

Hubby Bobby, Amitha, Dayven, left and Rohan right

With love,

Amitha & Family

Thanksgiving Prep Checklist

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