In a hospital waiting room, the seeds of hope were being planted on Christmas Day.
The parents of Firefighter Matthew Long sat among family and other loved ones, looking for signs that he would recover from his critical injuries.
Long, 39, was hit by a charter bus last Thursday as he bicycled to work on Manhattan's East Side during the transit strike.
The immediate prognosis was grim, but heroic efforts by surgeons and Long's good physical condition gave his family hope for a recovery.
Yesterday, the entire Long clan and dozens of the city's Bravest filled a waiting room at Weill Cornell Medical Center, not far from where Matthew, a triathlete, lay.
"He's still deep in the woods, but he's making baby steps toward recovery," said his father, Michael Long, clad in a red holiday sweater.
"In the last 20 hours, he hasn't needed any more blood, and he tried to open his eyes. That's our Christmas present," he continued.
The aroma of fresh bagels and hot coffee filled the room, as loved ones turned to each other for support and comfort. Well-wishers came with gift bags and a wealth of moral support.
"It's family and firefighters here. There's so much support," said Long's mother, Eileen Long, who sported a festive red Christmas pin.
"They are here on Christmas Day," she said, her voice trailing off.
Her son suffered a dislocated shoulder and a fractured pelvis, left arm and leg after the accident at Third Ave. and E. 52nd St.
He was biking to the FDNY Academy on Randalls Island, where he trains new recruits.
His family attended a morning Mass at the hospital, then went upstairs for a brunch of coffee and bagels. Last night, they had Christmas dinner there.
Long also was on the mind of Mayor Bloomberg, who asked New Yorkers in his radio address yesterday to "remember in your prayers Firefighter Matthew Long."
Bloomberg's gesture was not lost on Long's father, the state Conservative Party boss. "We are thankful for all the prayer. It gives us hope," he said. "There's just been a great outpouring of support from the whole city. It's a present that he is still with us. But more prayers are still needed."
"And donations," his wife chimed in. "Please donate blood in his name." Those interested in donating blood can call (800) 933-2566 or visit www.nybloodcenter.org.