Sunday I went to Cardinal Glennon Hospital to visit my niece, Kenia. She is my husband’s cousin’s daughter, which doesn’t make her my niece in American culture but, her mother has the same last name as my husband. (Their parents are siblings on both sides.) That makes them more like siblings than cousins. I realize it’s a bit confusing; she is nonetheless to me, my niece.
I have known Kenia since she was a tiny baby. I first met her and her family when they were living in Las Vegas for a short time in 1997. Kenia has Crouzon’s Snydrome. Her skull fused together prematurely causing abnormal development of the eye sockets and mid-face.
I didn’t become reacquainted with Kenia and her family until I moved to Chicago in 2001. Kenia and her older brother played with my kids like all little cousins do. They all got along really well. My children, like me, see a person’s inner self. Unconditional love truly is blind.
Kenia attends the school for the blind, because of the Crouzon’s Syndrome, her eyesight is very bad. Over the years, Kenia has had major surgery several times to make space for her growing brain. She recently had another surgery in August of this year. Friday, Kenia was admitted to the hospital because of an infection that she contracted while at school.
It is difficult to fight illness this time of year and even more so when you have a brace attached to your head and face and are around other children who may or may not be carrying a simple cold virus.
Kenia’s mother hasn’t worked since the surgery in August. She took a significant reduction in income so that she could be with her daughter. What parent wouldn’t do the same thing?
December 23, one day before their family celebrates Noche Buena, (Christmas Eve) Kenia will be undergoing surgery again, to remove the last bit of equipment from her August operation. This is when the doctors will find out whether the surgery went well and if her skull will hold its new shape. If the surgery didn’t go well, her skull will collapse, crushing her brain and killing her. Kenia will be 15 years old next January. She is scheduled for another surgery next year.
Many times this month, you have seen me say how important it is to give to those less fortunate. In fact, if you’ve been a reader since the beginning, you know I speak about it often. We live in a society where it’s all about, “ME”. People going into debt at Christmas to spoil already spoiled children. Children asking for more and more every year, even when they have too much already. People buying cars that are beyond their means and paychecks. Where does it end? There is nothing wrong in wanting to have nice things; after all you work hard for them, right?
But, what about those who are in need? What about the family who spends their holiday in a hospital room praying for a full recovery? What about the child who hopes to be with her family for Christmas? A child who has asked Santa for her health.
No, Kenia doesn’t believe in Santa but, Kenia and her family wants those things just the same. My husband, children, and I are doing what we can to make sure Kenia has a great Christmas this year. Despite the financial difficulties we also have faced these last three years. If we have to forgo our own Christmas celebrations and sit in a hospital room to make her Christmas special, we will. Because it is the season to give and it won’t feel like Christmas without her.
Many people will throw in a couple of dollars or a handful of coins into a kettle for a stranger to have a Merry Christmas, how about doing the same for my niece? If you’d like to contribute to Kenia’s Merry Christmas you can contact me directly or use the donation button on my blog’s sidebar. All donations ‘For Jens Sake’ receives in December will go directly to Kenia’s Christmas gifts. Thank you all for being loyal readers and may you all spread the joy and magic of Christmas to everyone.
This is a rare photo of Kenia since her surgery, she didn’t want to be photographed while wearing the brace.