That picture up there? It makes my husband cry. And for all the wrong reasons.
It was taken on Halloween, obviously, a few years ago. Casey is looking across the street at the party that her little friends are all attending. Casey was there but fled, terrified, because there is a "dressed up monster with red eyes in the basement and I can't go down there and Mandy says I can't stay if I don't stay downstairs." Suffice it to say that it was all I could do not to walk across the street and politely ask why it would be a big deal to move said monster to the closet and let Casey participate. Which was lobbying with a few other ideas better left unwritten.
Last week, Travis swam in one of his last meets as a Senior. He is trying hard to make state cuts and for the last month has been battling a sore shoulder that has cost a few hundred at the chiropractor and doctor in attempts to get him back in the pool. He got fixed, he was back, and then in the blink of an eye, he was hurt again. He came home from practice and made the decision that he would swim in his meet the next night, as hard as he could, and what would be, would be.
So Bill and I sat, watching our kid swim up the pool, and down the pool, and then saw the change in his stroke that told us it was over. A touch at the end of the race and his head didn't lift up to look at us in triumph. It hung, sadly. An attempt to push himself up and out of the pool in vain, as his shoulder was collapsing beneath him. Tears in my eyes because unlike Casey above, I cannot run to him and fold him in my arms and tell him that it will get better. This is not something you do with a 17 year old boy, at least if you want him to continue to speak to you.
So outside I go into the cold, filling a Target bag with snow to make an icepack. I meet Travis in the hall, and one look tells me it is really, really over. His eyes are glittery and he says "Mom, I did my best. I can't do anymore." I look at his fingers, blue and numb, see the pain in his face, and in the quiet, private hallway, I finally get to hug my son and cry.
Let it be known that Travis is not big on drive and determination. He's a typical teenager, needing to be kicked in the pants to do chores and the like. But he worked hard all last summer with a competition team, and got up at 5am in the cold Michigan winter to get in a cold pool and train 4 hours a day since November.He really wanted to meet his goals, and it cuts me to the core to see him fall short this way.
I took Travis to work with me that night, to get seen and treated. The diagnosis is pointing to a torn rotator cuff, and a definite end to his season. One of my friends drove him home with her because he was panicking about missing class the next day. I went on to work my shift. Throughout the night, I was told by more than a few people what a great kid I had. How he shook hands and joked and thanked people for caring for him. How he could have been a sullen angry teenager who was pissed at the world but chose instead to be appreciative of everyone who helped him.
I realized something. I realized that the things that break your heart can also help repair it.
And Casey - well, she still doesn't think much of "dressed up people". But with her big brother at her side, she was willing to face her fears last Halloween. The picture above still makes Bill tear up - and the picture below does the same to me. But life goes on, doesn't it? And while life sucks sometimes and breaks your heart, I am so grateful for my kids and all they give me to patch it up again. Travis, you made me proud this season.