Heading out of town this weekend to say goodbye to my Aunt Ruth. It will be a quick trip, and I'm sure there will be tears. But the legacy of a life well lived is seen in the smiles of family, happy to be together, even for the saddest occasions.
This week has been an emotional rollercoaster. On Tuesday I took the boy to the doctor because he was having a lot of pain in his left leg. I had taken him in the week before due to a sinus condition and cough, but now I'm worried that somehow it's all tied together.
Mind you, I'm operating on less sleep than I'm used to having - I have been waking with JH in the middle of the night, helping him through bouts of coughing, administering medicine, reading poetry aloud to help ease him back to sleep, and then laying there wide awake trying to untie the worry knot in my brain.
Monday afternoon I got a note from his teacher saying that he was getting a leadership award, and that's when he also mentioned that his left leg was hurting. So Tuesday, after I managed to get out of work for an hour for the awards assembly, I brought him home, went back to work, and took him to the doctor when I got off work. They did an ultrasound on his leg, did blood tests, which he was very, very brave about. He was SO scared to have the blood test. His eyes welled up when they told him, and he was embarrassed. When the ultrasound tech had finished (after an hour and half, due to the fact that he has more than the normal amount of veins in his leg (something he thought was pretty cool!), she left the room to find the radiologist. The whole building was quiet - it was after hours by then - Joe-Henry told me he was ashamed that he cried and wasn't brave.
I told him that courage had nothing to do with tears. The bravest, strongest people cry. Tears are cleansing, healing things, and that there is nothing shameful about them. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean not feeling things. It means facing things through tears sometimes.
I had to leave work early today to pick him up at school again. His leg is hurting, a bit higher today, which scares me. We see the doctor at 1:30 and the ultrasound tech at 3:00.
I am doing my best to keep MY brave face on. To be his support and to keep my emotions in check. But if the tears flow, I'll try to remember the words I spoke to the bravest kid I know.
Who would have guessed, ten years ago when I had a bebeh in mah belleh, that I would be a proud, benchsittin' loudyellin' baseball mom?! So much of this parenting journey has been a surprise. The dreams you have for your children before they are born are YOUR dreams. But when THEIR dreams come into sight, and they can work toward what THEIR passion is, there is not one thing in life like it.
Oh sure, you can guide them toward things, model behavior you want to see from them, expose them to things you think will make them the kind of people the world needs. But when they hit a certain age, and you need to start loosening your grip, finger by finger, if you're lucky you get to see who THEY are. It's a nailbiter at times, you watch them interact on the playground when they're little and wonder just how the hell they are going to get through this unscathed.
Watching Joe-Henry run when he was little, watching him chase his friends from far afield, trying with all his might to catch up, hearing him recount the gym classes when he came in "last, again", those are moments I have been bracing myself for since his birth. Knowing they were coming did nothing to stop the lump in my throat. It just helped me to hide it from him a little bit.
We've been pretty honest with him about his kt. There is so much we DON'T know. We've been good about not making false promises, or giving false hope, but we haven't ever said "you can't do this".
And he hasn't either.
Yesterday after the last game of spring baseball, when all the parents had packed up the kids and the trophies and JH and his Dad were headed to the car, his coach took me aside. I had thanked him for all his dedication to the kids, to helping them really learn, really try their best. He didn't sugarcoat anything for the kids, he got on them, with humor, when they messed up, and the kids all responded with their best efforts. The last game was a hoot, and the kids all made some pretty impressive plays. Anyway, he wanted to know about Joe-Henry's leg. He had heard me ask if it was tired earlier. I told him a bit about Joe-Henry's kt, that it was vascular, and his leg tired easily, and he had a hard time running and standing sometimes, and he just looked at me and took it all in. He said "Joe-Henry is one of the best players I had on this team. He has so much heart and desire, he always gets in front of the ball, he always know where it's supposed to go. I wish I had ten of him. Heart, desire and intelligence can go a long way towards making dreams come true.