Danny Blessing was the youngest child of Daniel and Margaret Blessing who had 5 other children. Daniel and Margaret loved each of their children dearly and even though they did not have a lot of money they tried their best to make sure their children had everything they needed. Christmas was a very special time in the Blessing house and Margaret would do her best to make the holiday a very special time for her family. She would tuck away a few pennies here and there so that at Christmas time there was a little extra money to spend at the grocers on ingredients to bake Christmas cakes, cookies and squares with her children. None of them were sure what they enjoyed more the time they spent together creating the goodies or the time they spent eating them. While the family could afford little in the way of gifts, Daniel and Margaret would always manage a few gifts under the tree for each child. Margaret Blessing would often knit them new hats, mittens and scarves to unwrap at Christmas and Daniel would spend hours in his workshop making them something exciting like a go-cart or a rocking horse.
The entire Blessing family knew the true meaning of Christmas which is spending time with those your love and celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus. The family would even volunteer their time to help those in need during the holidays and always had room at the Christmas dinner table for someone who was far from home or had no family to share Christmas with. The lives of this close knit family suddenly changed when their youngest child Daniel was diagnosed with cancer. Daniel would often pass by his mother’s room and hear her crying during those first days of hearing the diagnosis, he tried to be brave for her, and besides, cancer didn’t sound so bad, he would probably be over it in a few days just like every other time he got sick. Doctors in the small town Daniel lived in didn’t have much to offer the blessing family; they simply did not have the expertise to handle Danny’s needs. The doctors mentioned that there was a hospital over 6 hours away by train that had a very good success rate, but it was expensive, and very far away.
The Blessing family decided that no matter what it took they would find a way for Danny to get the very best treatment possible, so off they went to the children’s hospital by train. It was the first time that any of the Blessings had ever been on a train, in fact, none of them had every gone more than 50 miles from home before. Danny watched in amazement out of the train window as the train passed farmers fields, and crossed bridges and made short stops in small towns along the way. Danny felt like the luckiest boy alive on that trip into the big city because he was yet to understand what lay before him.
Danny’s mouth dropped when the taxi cab dropped them off at the front doors of the hospital. Never in his life had he ever been in a building this big! Mom grabbed Danny by the hand and went inside to the receptionist to ask for directions. The receptionist was very nice and gave his mom a map of the hospital and explained where she needed to go. The first stop was for blood work. The woman who took Danny’s blood explained everything she was going to do and asked him to be brave and he would hardly notice the prick of the needle. Danny didn’t even wince when she slid the needle into his vein, he was so proud of himself, and so were mom and dad! In fact, Danny’s mom and dad told him that they had never been so proud of him so he made sure to be extra good and not complain as they went from department to department getting tests. Finally it was time to go see Danny’s new doctor. Danny was a little upset when his mom and dad were whisked into the doctor’s office and he had to stay in the waiting room. That upset quickly disappeared when 16 year old Molly rushed into the room breathless and said “I’m so sorry I’m late, Molly smiled and walked over to Danny and said “Danny, my name is Molly and I am going to be your buddy while you are here. If you have any questions you can ask me and I will do my best to answer you as honestly as I can. In the meantime, come over here, they have a bunch of toys set up that you can play with while your parents are in meeting Dr. Foster.
Over an hour later, Dr. Foster’s office door opened and he called Danny over and asked him to come into the office. Molly quickly got up and followed Danny in. Dr. Foster’s office was big and had a lot of shelves with books on it and a big leather couch. Danny went to go sit on the couch and Molly sat beside him and grabbed his hand and smiled at him. Danny looked over at his mom and could tell she had been crying. At that point Dr. Foster went to sit beside Danny and started talking to him in a soothing voice. The doctor explained to Danny that he had leukemia and it was very serious. He explained to Danny that he would be need to spend a lot of his time here, but it would be ok because Molly would be his friend and all of the doctors and nurses would work very hard to make Danny well again. Danny’s mom then came over and knelt down in front of him. He could see the tears welling up in her eyes and begin to trickle down her face. She told him that he was much loved and sometimes things in life are not easy and sometimes people get sick and it doesn’t just go away on its own. She went on to say that Danny would need to spend time here at the hospital, away from home, but that they would visit as often as they could, and that being apart was not what they wanted, but rather it was their only option.
After many tears and hugs Danny waved goodbye to his parents and Molly grabbed his hand and walked him to his room. Although Danny’s room had all the normal medical equipment you would normally find in a hospital, the walls were painted a lively yellow and it had a blue border with rainbows along the top. There was a little table and chair set, a little wee couch built for someone his size and his very own TV.
It wasn’t until the next morning when he awoke in the hospital did Danny truly understood what being along felt like. He missed him mom and dad and his siblings too. He didn’t want to stay, he wanted to go home that very moment, but there was no way home and he just had to wait until his parent’s next visit. Surely they would take him home then. The next 3 weeks were very hard on Danny, he was adjusting to life without his family and he the doctors and nurses were always poking him with needles and the special medicine they gave him made him sick to his stomach. By the time Danny’s parents arrived, they hardly recognized their little boy. His hair was gone and his face appeared all puffy from the chemotherapy, but he still had a smile on his face and ran as fast as he could into his mother’s arms.
His mom sat him down and updated him on all the things that had happened at home since she last saw him. She explained that life was very hard without him, how deeply he was missed and how everyone was pulling together as a family to make sure Danny had everything he needed. Dad went out and got a second job and spent every spare moment building bird houses that he sold to local stores. Mom worked at the diner in town a couple of nights a week in addition to her other job and cleaned people’s homes whenever she could for extra money. Even his siblings took on jobs after school to help out with the enormous debt being incurred by Danny’s treatment. They had paper routes, made and sold cookies, but lawns and babysat. Everyone was pulling together for Danny, and all Danny needed to do was to rest and concentrate on getting better. The train fare to go and see Danny was expensive so this would be the last visit with both of his parents together. From now on, every other week Danny’s mom or dad would visit, but never both, and although his siblings loved him very much they simply could not afford train fair for them.
Danny was so sad, but he dared not show his parents. He kept telling them it was ok, but what he really wanted to do was hug his mom and never let go. Mom and Dad’s visit was short, and when they left he started to cry but soon enough the touch of a familiar hand was on his shoulder and he looked up, and there stood Molly, his buddy and new best friend. Danny buried his face in her shoulder and wrapped his arms around her and cried. Molly never said a word, she just hugged him back. What would he ever do without Molly? She was always there for him, always seemed to know when he needed her most, he could look in her eyes and know she understood and he never had to say a word. Finally Danny pulled back and Molly grabbed some tissue and gently wiped the tears from his face, then got another tissue and wiped them from her own. Danny looked at her for a long time and then finally said “Molly, why do you come here to see me and be my friend?” She smiled and said “everyone needs a friend in their lives and I want to be yours. That wasn’t good enough for Danny, so he pressed her, “but why me? Why would you want to be best friends with a boy with cancer” Molly looked down at the floor, she was trying to find the right words but knew there were no right words, only the truth so she said “Danny, have you ever wondered why I always seem to know the answers to your questions?” Danny nodded yes. “Danny, when I was your age, I too was in this hospital, I too had cancer. When I got better I decided that I wanted to be there for kids that went through what I did.” Danny looked at her long silky dark brunette locks and said “you were bald? I can’t believe that. She laughed, rubbed his bald head and said “Don’t let this hair fool you, I looked cute bald”. At that point Danny started to laugh, and so did she, and he knew things were going to be ok; he just needed to be patient.
The months came and went and it seemed with each passing day he missed his parents more. When the nurses started decorating the playrooms with Christmas decorations, he was eager to help out. One Saturday a nurse came into the hospital on her day off and together with Molly gathered up some of the children and baked Christmas cookies in the kitchen. It brought back memories from home and he walked with an ache in his heart, he missed home. When mom came to visit Danny got up the courage to ask her about Christmas, certainly Danny could go home for Christmas? The answer he got devastated him and sent him into uncontrollable sobs. Danny could not come home for Christmas, and not only that, but his parents would be unable to take the train up to see him. The cost of traveling during the holidays was so much that they simply could not afford a train ticket. Danny would be spending Christmas alone in the hospital.
There was nothing Molly could do that day to comfort Danny. No amount of hugs could take away the pain he felt in his heart about being alone. That night he cried himself to sleep. When he woke up his eyes were swollen from a long night of crying but he decided that he was going to be a big boy about the entire thing and try to get into the Christmas spirit. He started to make paper snowflakes that his older sister had taught him how to make and with the help of the nurses he managed to get snowflakes in every room on the ward. He even got some of the kids together to sing Christmas carols in front of the staff. Molly was always by his side, helping him, giving him inspiration and suggestions. The entire ward was alive with the true Christmas spirit, but one by one the children well enough to leave went home to spend Christmas with family and only a few children remained.
Christmas Eve arrived and the staff told Danny they had a very special surprise for him. He was so excited, what on earth could it be? They gave Danny some brand new clothes to put on and brought him down to the front of the hospital all bundled up against the cold. What on earth was he doing outside? Slowly a very large car pulled up and a man in a suit came out and walked around to open the car door for Danny and he said “Young Blessing, your ride awaits you”. Danny got in and motioned for Molly to follow him and she climbed in beside him. The car drove slowly through the streets and then to the outskirts of town. The car started to slow down even more and he looked outside to see a winter wonderland. Every tree was light up, the house shone like a star in twinkling lights; it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his life. Molly pulled Danny close and said “Did I ever tell you I was born on Christmas Day and it is my favorite day of the year? I have always loved Christmas lights, lots of them, everywhere, and so they light up the heavens. Danny smiled and rested his head on her shoulder as they turned into the driveway.
A few moments later the car had pulled up to the huge mansion and just as he was exiting the car the front door swung open and out rushed his mother, his father and his 5 siblings. They rushed him into the house and everyone hugged each other and cried. Danny was in shock. How could this be? How did his family get here, where were they? Danny then noticed a gentleman with a warm smile on his face. The man looked familiar somehow but Danny was sure he had never met the man before. The man said “Welcome to my home Danny, Merry Christmas” He then sat down next to Danny and said “I want to tell you a story of how you came to be here” Danny listened intently as the man continued. I once had a beautiful daughter. She was the most special person in my life. Ever day I would wake up and thank God for bringing such a special person into my life and thanked him for allowing me the privilege of being her father. When my daughter turned 14 we discovered she had cancer. She fought a brave battle and never once complained. She spent her remaining time on earth helping other children like her feel not so alone. When she was 16 years old she lost the battle and died peacefully in her sleep with me at her side. It was the saddest day of my life. Christmas was her favorite time of year, and that Christmas I was so sad thinking about facing the holiday alone that I decided not to celebrate it. However, my daughter appeared to me in a dream and told me that I should celebrate her life not mourns it. When I woke up I realized the best way to celebrate her life was to carry on the work she started and that was to help children with cancer and make sure they know they are not alone. I talked to the people at the hospital you are at and wondered if there were any children who could not go home for Christmas and whose parents could not make the trip to see them and they told me about you. They told me how helpful you were, and how you decorated the ward and how very special you were. I then contacted your parents and brought your entire family here so that you can spend Christmas together” At that moment Molly got up and walked over to the man and stood on her toes and gave him a kiss on his cheek and then stood beside him with her head on his shoulder.
The man then said, “My hope is that Molly, wherever she is can see that I am celebrating her life just as she would want me too”. Danny frantically looked around the room, his eyes darting everywhere, trying to grasp the situation. He saw pictures of Molly everywhere, he did not understand…then he looked at Molly again and thought about all the time they had spent together, and could never recall one instance where anyone ever spoke to Molly. He then said to the man “Kind sir, you are mot alone, Molly knows what you do, in fact, Molly is here with us now. She has been by my side since I first came to the hospital, she is my best friend”
No one said a word; they just gasped and did not know what to say. The man said “perhaps you are mistaken and know a different Molly” to which Danny replied “No, she is the girl in all of the pictures, she is standing by you now. Her birthday is on Christmas Day isn’t it?” The man started to cry and knelt in front of Danny and hugged him. “Yes Danny, her birthday is on Christmas Day, Thank you so much for being my daughters’ friend and letting me know she is still with me. Merry Christmas Danny and Merry Christmas to Molly too”
And with that, the celebration started and it was the best Christmas the Blessing family ever had. There were more presents than any of the children had ever seen and the laughter and love echoed through the house. Danny grew up to be a fine man, a man that loved Christmas and when he had a daughter of his own, he named her Molly after his very best friend and made sure his house was lit up like the stars every Christmas to celebrate her life!