“Come on Lord, let him hit a home run. Come on Lord, let him tag him out. Come on Lord, let him catch it…yes, thank you, about time Lord.” Whew, “Good job Chris, way to play ball!”
This was me, game after game while Chris was playing Little League. He was mostly always ‘almost’; mostly always ‘gosh darn close’. Chris wasn’t a bad player, he wasn’t a great player, but he played his little league heart out. It was so frustrating for him to catch the fly ball only to have it pop out of his mitt, as if someone bopped his hand making it do so. Or, he’d hit an awesome line drive, with 2 outs and the opposing team’s outfielder totally on it, fast throw to first base, and Chris is O – U – T out. “Lord come on, give him a break; it’d be so good for him; send his angels to the outfield with him.”
Then one day, while sitting off by myself on the bleachers, having another game day conversation with God, I got an answer. It was one of those very audible, real life answers; so much so, I turned to see the face of the one who spoke it. “I have to keep Chris humble,” said the faceless voice.
“Humble? Really? Come on Lord, he’s only eight.” was my discussed mommie response.
On the way home from one of those ball games or one of those ball practices, Chris said to me, “Mom, I just wanna live until I die.”
I’ll never forget that moment. Could he have heard the song? Probably; but when I looked into his eyes there was an intense maturity, a profound depth, as if he truly knew what he was saying, and meant it, meant it from an intuitive, insightful place within his little boy heart. I was moved beyond words. “I hope so son, I really hope you do,” was all I could manage to say.
It was ball season when I had my accident. Yet, thankfully since I had four kids playing ball, there were plenty of Mommies who stepped up to the plate (pun fully intended). How grateful I am, still, after 14 years, for all the things these cherished women did for my family.
Being in trauma then in isolation, I wasn’t able to see my children; I’m sure I had a few short conversations with them on the phone, but I wasn’t able to see them, hug them, sit with them, read to them, take them to ball practice, or any of the other many things a mommie does with them. As I write this I wonder what must have gone through their minds when they heard, “your mom has lost both of her legs.”
My nurses couldn’t take it any longer. I don’t know how they did it but they all worked together to make arrangements to sneak my fabulous five up to see me. Now, I was just with this fabulous five over the weekend and they haven’t changed. They are loud, mischievous, and plain silly, they are all but a ‘sneak up to a hospital room’ group, especially back then. Yet it was accomplished. Our visit was short. I held back tears and attempted to be light hearted; I was overjoyed to see them all. Still, I wonder what must have gone through their minds, seeing me hooked up to so many IV’s and machines, not to mention, their wonderment as to what my legs must look like and the oddity that they really were missing.
Jeff shuttled them out the door but Chris lingered making his way back to the foot of my hospital bed. He stood there looking at me though over sized dark sunglasses which he had been wearing since he’d arrived. I knew why he wore them and never questioned him about them. Here now, he was looking for something, anything to say and he just began to talk, to ramble on. I forced a smile as I manically pushed my morphine pump hoping the wonderful drug would numb the pain in my heart. My sweet brave 10 year old son, hiding his tear stained eyes behind those sunglasses, he had no morphine, no drug, to deaden his heart ache, just his funny, silly rambling.
Maybe it was at that moment he first began to know his calling in life would be physical therapy. Now, after last weekend’s graduation, he will start a new chapter in his life as he begins his doctorate of physical therapy. A profession he will be so very, very good in.
This morning he stopped by to drop off a few of his things, make a few arrangements, do a few chores for me, all before he sets out for graduate school at the end of this week. He asked me to help him move a broken down 4-wheeler, I needed to steer as he pushed. As I went to climb on he said, “Here, mom, I can just lift you.” So he picked me up from my wheelchair and set me on the seat but not before he brushed off the dust.
As he pushed and I steered, I thought back to all the times he has lifted me, carried me. One time in particular was when we were on a family vacation in Cancun, January 2010. Here is a handsome young man on a beautiful Caribbean beach scattered with gorgeous young women in bikinis. He could be out doing what most young men would enjoy doing in such a setting, but he carried me, his mom, out to the water. He took me catamaraning, he then carried me down along the shore line to where schools of fish were swimming though, running back and forth from our beach location to the equipment shack to make sure I had the right size life vest before swimming out with me, watching over me, making sure I was okay while never intruding on my independence, always encouraging me to swim out to the reef, to snorkel around, to explore, to be ‘able’.
Yeah, I was reminded of all the times, and there are many. As I’m sure there will be many others. He is tender with me, watchful, always seeking ways for adapting things so I can do ‘something’ more. He is going to be a fine physical therapist, a choice physical therapist.
As I continued to watch him this morning I noticed and commented on how many things he does like his dad, as well as how many of those things scare the heck out of me, like his dad. “Yeah, dad taught me a lot and there are a lot of things dad did that I know not to do.” I had to smile when he said this because I knew he learned from his dad’s mistakes.
We sat and had a little breakfast together this morning. It was nothing out of the ordinary, nothing really special and yet I am so grateful for the time we spent. I reminded myself he is only going a few hundred miles up Interstate 15, it’s not like he’s headed across the pond to Scotland for 2years again as he did in 2006. I wasn’t feeling really sad nor was I teary. I knew I wouldn’t be seeing him any more or any less then I have over the past few years while he was living only 30 miles up Interstate 15.
So what was I feeling? Maybe, as I watched him this morning and as we sat and had breakfast together, just maybe, I saw my 24 year old son who plays life with the same little leaguer heart. Maybe, it is knowing all the things he has been through, all the things which have kept him humble. Maybe, it’s knowing how much he misses his dad. Or, maybe, it’s seeing him do just what Jeff and I raised him to do, doing what he commented he wanted to do, “I just want to live until I die.”
While he did grow up on blacktop streets, this song does remind me of my 8 year old little leaguer, my brave 10 year old boy, my 19 year old missionary, my 24 year old graduate who continues to hold on to his dreams. And tonight I will thank the Lord above for allowing me to be Christopher's mom. I will thank Him for knowing best and keeping my, His, our son humble.