crushed. not the bone, the bone is merely broken (likely, two bones in two places). it’s the heart that feels crushed.
the doctor who wrapped that arm in plaster yesterday morn, he said it could be there for a long time. twelve weeks. that’s basic math in our house, because we all know that in just less than three weeks the kid now wearing that cast had his heart set on trying out for a soccer team he’s been dreaming about for, probably, a good two years. the kid whose arm is in plaster is about to start high school, a big high school where it can be plenty hard to find your moorings, but being on a team at least gives you a place to begin.
the kid whose arm is in plaster is a goalie. that means he swats at the ball with all his heart and all his might, and tries to keep the other team from rocket-blasting the soccer ball into the wide expanse of tied-together string otherwise known as “the goal.” i’ve seen that kid leap high into the air, i’ve seen him knock away incoming balls as if mosquitoes that deserved a passing swat. i’ve seen him dissolve in the back seat on the long ride home on the days the games don’t go his way. the kid plays with whole heart. in fact, the kid lives with his whole heart. which is part of why i fall in love with him, day after every single day.
what might have me weepiest here this morning is that the whole day-long yesterday he never let out a peep of complaint. not a single word of self pity. not a single “why me?”
while i spent the day choking back tears, he just swallowed the whole of it, and wondered how he’d brush his teeth or eat pancakes with a thumb and a hand that won’t be holding anything till clear into october.
what you can’t see in the picture up above is that that’s only the half of it. the other half looks like this:
that’s his knee. he’s a matched set. the knee will be in that metal-ribbed brace for the next four weeks. with physical therapy twice a week.
what happened is this: smack dab in the thick of our “staycation” last weekend, we had a torrential rain. for the kid in question this has been The Summer of the Self-Propelled Wheels. he and his phalanx of buddies slap on helmets and ride into the wind. and the rain. they go where they need to go all on the power of their feet pushing round the pedals. not long after last saturday’s rain, after coming home to strip off the soaking clothes and put on dry ones, the kid set back out on his bike, to do a good deed for a friend. (you know where this is going….)
not 15 minutes after he’d pedaled off, the sun by then cracking through sodden gray skies, we heard a faint but frantic knock at the back door. there stood the kid, covered in scrapes and cuts, with a right wrist cocked at a truly odd angle. in that microburst of adrenaline that often comes, he’d pedaled himself home after flying over the handle bars, and smacking hard against the concrete sidewalk. the rain from the earlier deluge was still so deep he couldn’t see the curb, so when his bike tire banged up against it — just a few feet from a street that courses heavy traffic all day and into the night — he went flying. he was alone. (you are beginning to get a picture of the scenes that keep flashing through his ol’ mama’s head.)
long story short: he’s banged up. two fractures in the right wrist, one in a bone that takes forever to heal. banged-up knee besides.
and the truth of it in this summer that has been soaked in sad news — brain tumors and breast cancers, long roads of chemo for people i love, some with unthinkable infusions flushed straight to the chest or into the belly — is that i know this is many notches down on the bad news scale. it’s bones and tendons and all will heal. but beneath it — beneath every single bit of not-good news conveyed in the halls of hospitals and doctors offices — there’s a story, a human heart that strains to absorb, to understand, just what it means, what it all means and how in the world you’ll find your way forward.
what it means here is that a kid whose heart was set on being part of a team, on finding a solid place to belong in a school that sometimes feels like it might swallow you alive, he might not find that mooring. not so swiftly anyway. he might miss the whole-team carbo loads the night before games. he’ll miss the morning-after walk through the halls when kids might have been high-fiving him for some crazy miraculous save. he’ll miss whatever are the mysterious winds that blow among players, that weave them into a whole, weavings that come in looks exchanged on the field or words whispered in locker rooms. he’ll even miss the heartbreak of a ball soaring just beyond his reach.
trust me, as i type these words, i realize it’s all just sports. it’s just cleats and a ball and a shared pursuit. but aren’t these the threads of childhood, of growing up, and finding our way, of stitching together the whole of who we are? and don’t all the moments matter, even the ones we cast aside as not quite life or death?
and one other odd-ball thing i thought about: it didn’t take me long to wonder if just maybe this broken wrist was in fact a silver lining, one i couldn’t and might not ever see. maybe, i thought to myself, some guardian angel had swooped down and saved my kid from some truly awful collision of the head or the eyes in some moment in a game that now won’t happen. maybe, i thought, my kid was saved because he won’t be in some moment that otherwise might have been. i’ve heard tales aplenty of goalies knocked unconscious. and a dear friend of mine, one whose sweet boy also lives and breathes to keep balls from sailing into goals, she and i share horror tales, like the one about the kid blinded when he took a cleat to the eye. or the goalie who died on a soccer field not too many miles from here, not too many years ago. mothers of goalies share these horrors in whispers along the sideline. we pray that someone will please issue a ruling that goalies must wear headgear. or eyewear. because, with all our hearts, we don’t want to be the moms who get up after the fact, after the disaster, and beg the crowds to change the rules. while we head home to teach our kids how to get along without the eyes God gave them.
but really what i set out to write this morning is something about the degrees of sadness, the relativity of broken hearts. how, even in a summer when people you love are having brain tumors radiated to smithereens, and other people you love are wrapping their heads around the fact that they’re facing 18 months of chemo, you can’t help but feel crushed when your kid is broken, and something he loves is taken away — at least for awhile, especially at the very start of what you knew would be an uphill climb, the start of new trier high school.
we struggle our whole lives long to make sense of things that catch us off-guard. we muddle through day after day, trying to figure things out, trying to pull up muscle and courage from deep down inside, to take the wobble out of our knees. so much of life comes careering around corners, unseen, un-imagined. sometimes it feels like our whole life long is one big expansion of the heart as we discover just how much we can wrap that muscle around, and just how tenacious we might be. even on the days we feel gut-punched. and dab away the tears.
forgive a sort of weepy post. just woke up that way. i know i’ll find my way. part of this morning’s fogginess is that we were out late last night at an MRI to peer deep into those bones. and my next few weeks just got a bit more complicated. i’ve only started to try to figure out how that right-handed boy will draw triangles in geometry or tackle physics experiments when school starts the middle of next month…
what silver linings have you found in chapters of your life that you’d not seen coming?
Go ahead and cry. As long as you need to. I’ll just sit here beside you with kleenex at the ready.
To answer your question: oh, lots. More the kind of thing I’d want to pull up a chair to tell you. But I’ll say this: after eight years of keeping a gratitude journal, I’ve learned that the nightly 5 thank yous often include thanks that something didn’t turn out the way I thought I’d wanted.
oh, goodness gracious, dear laura, there is such truth in that, isn’t there?
your gratitude journal is a work of pure beauty, the snippets i’ve been blessed to see. the way you write, those lists, five thank yous piled atop another, day after day, they’d make one inspired book. just sayin’….
p.s. thanks for pulling up a chair. and bringing the kleenex along. xo
I feel your pain. I’ve been there as a side-lined Mom. Same high school, different sport. My daughter coped by volunteering to manage the team. No high fives for goals, but still involved. She’s a coach now, so truly, it works out.
that is a sweet ending. thank you much for passing it along. i know resilience and learning to take life’s curves is one of the lessons. one that takes plenty of practice before needed in a big big way. thanks for pulling up a chair!
Oh no!!!! I was totally crushed with the opening picture. I’m 100% sure there is a silver lining–maybe there will now be some extra time to find another amazing pursuit at the high school with so much to offer. But I’m so still so sorry to read this news, knowing the emotions both you and our dear keeper friend are experiencing. We will get straight to work on a spirit-lifting care package!
dear beloved goalie mama, you saw yourself, i hope, mentioned as the one with whom i’ve long traded those whispered stories, though half a continent now keeps our sidelines apart. may your keeper keep safe and strong. love, always, bam
Yes, all the moments matter, even the ones that aren’t “life and death.” This could have been one of those on that oh-so-busy street, so it’s easy to be thankful that it wasn’t worse, but that doesn’t mean what is isn’t difficult enough in itself now and what it will mean for the immediate future. Brushing teeth with the non-dominant hand is difficult enough, but math & physics? Ish.
Your last paragraph and so many life truths. We do muddle through. It’s all we can do sometimes. I can’t imagine how “gut punched” you must have felt seeing your sweetie so banged up.
We are here to hold your hand, as Laura said. And to answer your question, a silver lining I never saw coming? You, my dear friend. As shiny bright as they come. Prayers for you and all of yours. xoxo
you melt me, sweetheart. you melt me….xoxoxoxoxoxo
Oh Babs. I’m awfully sorry.
I can really feel your pain. Poor mama and poor kid who had high hopes for sports and the mutli-purpose use of his dominant hand!
There is a silver lining, always. He’ll come back stronger. I’m sure you know that after a break, the arm becomes somehow bionic and it’s amazing how much strength emerges. It will help him down the road! Also, in this period of adolescent growth, it’s actually a blessing to give the body a break. I just read an article by a fancy pediatrician – rest is extremely key for boys. Some docs think these young athletes overdo and are overdone and all of that sounds about right, right? Maybe this really is a blessing.
And he’ll focus on adjusting to the rigors of NT academics (not a fun “outcome”, but important!).
Still, it sucks. I’m sorry.
One final good note: he’s healthy, alive, well, and still as Teddy as ever!
Stephanie Rogers email@example.com Hipchick Music http://www.hipchick.com
amen to the alive and well. and bring on the bionic arm!!!!! does that mean hearts are bionic after breaks? hmm. well, more likely to lean into lessons past and to pull from accumulated courage……this summer i think of my beloved brave hearts — the ones facing true tests — and therein i find extra dollops of whatever it takes for steep mountain climbs.
very touching and real, thanks Barb. Sorry to read of the accident.
I have been there with an injured boy, as I know you have also. Having also lived through being wife of a crunched and nearly terminal bicyclist both the victim and I developed a disgust for so many comments about “silver linings” or “God is telling you something”. Life changes from minute to minute, for good and bad. Those of us who are lucky have people who love us to help deal with it by getting up every day and doing the best you can, without drama.
Your littler guy will be a minor celebrity wearing casts to start high school. And remember, as I know you have a tall older boy, that this is the age of that giant morphing growth, inches overnight, leg pains, lopsided matching of coordination until things slow down. Not a bad thing, as you say, to be able to take things slow. And saying nothing of that lopsided interior growth at 13 and 14…he is way ahead of the game with a pair of loving parents and a big brother in the picture. Wishing you the best and good healing! (hmmm, maybe a scaphoid fracture there too?)
you write like a mama who’s been there indeed. so many unspoken wisdoms we gather along the course of growing beside peoples we love. i am so sorry your husband was crunched ala bicycle. and your boy in whatever way…..and, yes, the big brother is coming in mighty handy this week, as we travel as a quartet to ERs and MRIs. he is keeping his brother in stitches — the funny kind. which goes a long way toward scuttling dark gray clouds…..
When my son was 11 he was paralyzed by a virus of unknown origin and he has been in a wheelchair ever since that fateful day. Though it has been a long and hard struggle, he is 31 now and living a good life. Didn’t see how that would happen but it has. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish that he were walking but life can be so much harsher–and it is for many. My mantra was and is now–it is what it is. Wishing for more makes you forget the blessings that you have. And, though it is so very disappointing for your son, he will find his way and he will be successful on that different path. Courage to you both as you make your way–a new adventure awaits!
dear liz, as i inhale the whole of your story, i am silenced and startled into deeper understanding, and sharper perspective. our small plight has been snapped into its rightful size. your mantra is filled with wisdom. and i thank you for laying it here on the table. the beauty about speaking the truth here in this sacred space is when life stories are shared and we build strengths on each other’s shoulders. thank you. you and your son are woven into the litany of my prayers.
so long ago, i tiptoed into creating this virtual kitchen table with the hope and prayer and faith that amid the craziness of the cyberworld, we could carve out a place where kindness and empathy and quiet listening were the coins of the realm. and where we all grew wiser through open-hearted paying attention to each other’s offerings. where the not-often-shared whispers of the heart — the quiet victories, the crushing blows of daily life — might impart the truest truths, might illuminate how much our small lives matter. your story added to today’s mix is the very breath-taking blessing that i so believe in. it’s the sort of truth that spurs me to dig deeper and pull something sturdy and good from deep down inside. thank you for reminding me…..thank you for the blessing of your truth telling.
Wisdom through sharing life’s experiences with others is always valuable. Thank you for the spot to share. Courage and happy healing to you and to your family.
Oh those game changing moments…so tough. Actually I am sort of stymied that this young man is starting high school! Another game changer. I love how you spill all the struggle words out in such an honest and thoughtful fashion. Parenting is not for sissies and watching our children learn to cope with those inevitable game changing moments of injuries, disappointments, failures, faltering self confidence are the hardest. It would not be true love if it we weren’t struggling right along side them. Your “master mama” knows it never ends…that love struggle thing. Others have commented on the silver lining theory and yep, he will miss much, and yep,those holes will be filled in with new discoveries, friendships, and a different kind of resilience. However it is good to honor the sadness and the loss. That shiny, mirror reflective silver gleam has to break through some gray or would not otherwise be so beautiful. I guess that is where that gratitude list comes in…handy binocular moment. May the last days of summer be calm and the itching under the cast not so bad. xxoo
spoken like a wise school nurse who knows well the landscape of scraped knees, itchy casts, and heart breaks…..
sending love, dear lamcal. i’ve missed you. your voice at the table and in life always brings rolls of comfort…..xoxo
Oh, sweet friend. Life’s slings and arrows can fall fast and furious sometimes. I’ve always called this the Morton Salt theory: “When it rains, it pours.”
You were born with a heart fairly bursting with empathy. It breaks when someone else is hurting, shivers when someone else is cold, suffers when someone else is ill… Life is extra hard for those of us with empathetic hearts. Like the Cyrenian, we step up to lift the beam. Often, it’s several beams at once we’re lifting, and on a daily basis. Talk about crushed! I know the feeling well.
Speaking as one who has sat in far too many hospital rooms and doctor’s offices, who has wept over circumstances and illnesses that have stricken those I love, I understand how you’re feeling. And I’m writing right now to send you a big, big hug.
Your dear boy’s goalie dreams have been temporarily, not permanently, thwarted. I just know he’ll find a way to stay connected to his soccer team even though he can’t make tryouts. And who knows how this experience might positively impact his future? Maybe he’ll become interested in sports medicine or physical therapy. You never know! The main thing is, his bike didn’t careen into traffic. Thank God! He’s here, he’s on the mend, and he’s going to come back better than before. Every setback offers opportunities to grow. And grow he will.
Joining you in prayers for all your precious ones, prayers for peace, healing, wholeness.
Much love to you~ xoxoxoxo
bless your beautiful beautiful heart, dear A. thank you for your wisdom, your understanding, your beautifulness…..xoxo
[…] we store those sorts of things. and then i heard the hobbling sound of my sweet boy — the one with one leg in a brace and the other in a cast — i heard him climbing the […]