Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Team Ran From the Tunnel For the Last Time

Friday Night Lights- Week 7
Last Thursday, B was told by the doctor to wait at least two weeks before coming back in. He had much progression to do before even being considered to be cleared to play. Sunday, he was reminded to be mindful of the Lord’s will for him. We all felt very optimistic. Tuesday, he came home beaming-“I was able to throw really good at practice today. Not 30 yards, but a strong spiral! I also did a push-up without pain.” He asked me to go ahead and get him scheduled to see the doctor after all. Wednesday, he overheard some coaches talking about the game plan, and assumed B would be cleared to play. They were concerned he had missed so many practices with actually being on the field; they approached him and thoroughly quizzed him on coverage. He knew all the answers. Later that day in practice, he said he ran some of his best routes yet, and made some great one-handed catches. Things seemed to be lining up for a great finale for his home town field under Friday night lights.
Thursday morning we drove to the doctor. He needed to quickly return to school following his appointment as to not miss a math test, so he and I drove separately. The doctor told him he was making progress likened to a tortoise. He told him he wasn’t even cleared to play basketball, and likely wouldn’t get football clearance within the next year. B asked him if there were any exercises or stretches he could do to hurry the process of healing. The doctor told him “No, only time will heal this.” We left the doctor’s with few words. He drove away, saying just a “See ya.” I felt sad for him. I called H and told him I was a little worried. I’d have liked to have taken him to breakfast as has been our routine on Thursdays after his appointments, but he didn’t have time.
An hour later he was struck with the flu. He toughed it out at school, and crashed after practice and the spaghetti feed. Friday, he dragged himself to school long enough to talk to his coach and get permission to participate in senior night activities even if he went home sick. He came home and crashed on the couch. I gave him the best meds our cupboard had to offer, shut the blinds, and tucked him in on the couch. From time to time I would come in and check on him. At one point, I thought he must be awake as his “moans” were significant. I sat at the end of the couch for a moment to check to see if he had a fever. If so, it was mild, but I chose to linger for a moment, I watched him sleep and began to think about next year. This time next year, he will be at college. He would like to be playing football, but time will tell. If he gets sick, he will be alone. He will need to learn to take care of himself, get the rest he needs, and slow down, when his body indicates such. I noticed how his look hasn’t changed much since he was a baby, especially when he slept. I tried to take it all in, and then slip away without disturbing him.
A couple of batches of laundry later, he awoke. He said he saw the light peeking between the blinds. He thought it was Saturday morning. He wondered if his team had won their game. I informed him it was still Friday. I told him if he wanted to go to the game, he needed to leave now. He got dressed and left.
Later, we too arrived at the stadium and parked. As I stepped out of my car, the band was playing the school’s fight song. I smiled as I walked toward the stadium, seeing the busying of teams, fans, and staff. I let myself get momentarily lost in the glow of the lights, with the flag off to the side. I took a deep breath, and hurried to see the team as they finished warming up. B had asked and received special permission to wear his pads and full uniform for senior night pre-game pictures. He looked great,-tall and strong. We lined up, took our turn, being introduced to the crowd, and posed for our picture. He then went straight into the locker room to rejoin the underclassmen.
Moments later the team ran from the tunnel for the last time. Again, he trailed behind as he had left his pads and all but his jersey in the locker room. Again, he stood next to his quarterback during the National Anthem.
I wore ‘my’ jersey (his away jersey) with pride even though #21 never left the sidelines. Our team looked sharp from time to time, but trailed 21-14 at the final horn. I positioned myself to see him exit the field through the tunnel one last time. He looked up, his eyes looked sad. Mine filled with tears as I quickly filed down the stadium steps.
He said very little after he returned home. He took more meds, ate a tiny bit, and settled in on the couch. I asked him how he thought his season would end. He shrugged, and closed his eyes.
To be continued…

1 comment:

  1. Wow...I feel like I have been through the entire season with you guys (if only in spirit). What a great blog, J. B is a great YM with an incredible future ahead of him regardless of athletics. You guys have done a great job as parents! Keep up the amazing writing!