Abaco, The Bahamas — By: R.Octavia Dean – McIntosh

I stepped off the Continental aircraft and breathed in the moist air that had a bite of cold layered under it. Many Bahamians would call 70° F cold weather, and one time ago, I would have too. However, I had already adjusted to temperatures below 50°F in Canada in the day. So I was not perturbed at all. I scanned the crowd, who anxiously waited for loved ones to deplane, looking for my mother and little sister. Then I saw them, with huge smiles plastered on their faces and colorful balloons that displayed “Welcome Home” in fancy lettering. They had never looked more excited to see me.

Squealing, I closed the gap between us in long, quick strides. My mother engulfed me in her arms and her scent remained the same: a swirl of vanilla and cinnamon. Many people always thought it was due to her constant baking, and she let them think so. Only I knew that it was one of Bath Body & Works’ signature scents, “cinanilla sugar.” Only I knew that in one of my suitcases was a gift basket containing not only the cinanilla sugar perfume, but also the shower gel, body butter and lotion. I bent down and kissed my little sister, Michelle, on the nose. She responded accordingly by throwing her arms around me. Grinning, I looked at them both and could not figure out how I was so lucky to be blessed with such an amazing family. I was home for Christmas, and no feeling was better than what I was feeling at the moment. Everything was going to be great.

It all happened so fast. A blur of movement then the screeching of tires, blasting of horns, the sound metal of hitting flesh and metal scraping metal. Mom and I had turned our backs for just a second to finish retrieving my luggage. One second was all it took. With the absentmindedness many three year olds possess, Michelle ran into the middle of the road chasing a feather. The first car struck her with a loud thump. She flew into the air like a bird would soar on air currents. She then landed on the hood of the car that hit her with a sickening sound. My heart was pounding so hard I thought it would jump out of my chest. Mom let our a soul piercing wail that shattered my heart. Someone had taken the initiative and called an ambulance. Michelle looked like a broken angel as the EMTS surrounded her.

Mom and I followed the speeding ambulance to the hospital. When we arrived they were carting Michelle into a room. The horror of the whole thing had finally set in and Mom collapsed into tears. The stark white walls of the waiting room and the scent of antiseptic thinly veiled with Febreeze did little to calm us down. Three hours passed before the doctor came to see us. By that time, Mom and I were nervous wrecks. He had that clinical, remote look that many doctors seem have to have perfected. I was preparing for the worst. It never came. In concise words, the doctor explained that Michelle was okay. Her recovery period would take a long, long time and she would not be able to make it home for Christmas, but they expected her to get better. Relief poured through my veins. She was going to be okay! Mom hugged me tightly with tears escaping her. Spending the Christmas holiday in a hospital with my little sister was not what I had envisioned in the beginning. But we got a miracle. She was alive. She would get better. That alone, was enough reason to celebrate Christmas.

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