DWITS #5 – Chapter 2, In the Twinkling of an Eye

The last photo taken of my baby Abby Joanne McMinn, Christmas Day 1995

I hate Christmas! Truthfully, I love it, but my silent reflections each year on the pain of Christmas 1995 seem to engulf everything good. With heart-aching sadness I gaze at the sparkling tree, beautifully wrapped gifts, delectable food, laughter of my children, and smiles of my family members gathered around the feast table. It is hard to see beyond my tears to focus on the eternal message of hope brought by the birth of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago in the lowly manger.

My cherubic 10-month-old baby daughter, Abby, was teething. It is normal for a baby to be cranky and have sniffles when cutting their first set of teeth as she was. She was a healthy, happy baby and always had been. We loaded our then family of eight into our van and headed to my parents’ mountain home to celebrate Christmas with extended family.

Early morning Christmas Day, her sniffles became chest congestion. Following the great present unwrapping, and we had all enjoyed a festive brunch, she vomited several times. Since we were a three-hour drive away from our trusted pediatricians who were no-doubt celebrating Christmas with their families, we decided to call my sister’s local pediatrician instead. He assessed Abby’s declining health over the phone then prescribed two antibiotics. We went to town, purchased them, and administered both to her by mid-afternoon.

By evening we were headed to the emergency room because she was not “markedly better” as the pediatrician had wisely cautioned us to watch for. Since she was fussy, I did not buckle Abby in her car seat but protectively cradled her in my arms. Suddenly, I felt her stop breathing just a few minutes into the ride. I panicked! Then quickly began praying. My husband, Cary, began to administer CPR immediately while my Dad kept driving us through his tears. We stopped at a fire station along the way for help. During the next two hours, emergency response and hospital staff were unable to resuscitate her. Our precious baby, Abby Joanne, went to be with Jesus on His own birthday, Christmas 1995.

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