Today Daddy and I watched you swim in the Silver Championship meet. It was your first qualifying meet, and it won’t be your last. We find it amazing that you qualified, and for the 100 butterfly no less, in only your second year of swimming. To say we are proud would not even begin to define how we feel.
Today was just another example of how you amaze us, astound us and impress us. I know, parents are supposed to be proud of their kids. I get it. But, when I think of what you go through each moment of every day, I truly am left in awe.
I get that you like swimming because you can feel “normal.” There is no special treatment in the pool and the clock forgives nothing. Cut times are clear and either you make it or you don’t. Believe me, I don’t look to make excuses for anything or anyone. You know that I can be kind of tough. (I get that from Grandma, along with a bark that’s worse than my bite… :-)) But sometimes in those moments when you are your toughest critic you have to allow yourself the same forgiveness your warm heart offers to others without hesitation.
Living with Cowden’s Syndrome is a tenuous balancing act. To stay on top of things the way you do takes intense effort. I think most people would be physically and emotionally exhausted to live your yesterday – let alone your every day.
Last night when your back gave out, and the pain was too intense for me to even touch you, I gave you every out. I gave you every excuse not to swim today. You wouldn’t hear of it. Your hips, the exact point you need your force to kick for your favorite butterfly were tender to even the gentlest touch. It took you hours to rest because your body allows nothing to contend with the pain. So I held your hand as you wiggled and squirmed for hours. I reminded you I loved you as you desperately tried to rest. I stroked your head when you finally passed out from exhaustion. And I was glad the lights were off to hide the tears that stained my face. Tears, not of pity, but of grueling agony of watching my dearest love suffer some more. I knew as I laid there it was unfair. That your knee was still hurting too, and now your back. I knew I made no sense for all this to be coming the night before something you wanted so badly.
That defines your life. Sometimes the hits are small and consistent. Sometimes they come out of nowhere, but you just keep going. You just keep fighting. And truth be told, you inspire me to so the same.
Yesterday we went to look at shoes. You’ve been complaining for months that your left sock is tight. The orthopedist measured your feet and acknowledged the 1cm difference between them. But, I don’t think either of us took in the reality until we were in the shoe store and saw this.
Another realization that we needed to go about things a different way. So we picked out your shoes, ASICS GT 2000 3 in a 9.5 and a 10.5 and we spoke to the store manager at Dick’s. He will help us. Because we asked. But, I know it got into your head. The wonder about the upcoming surgery in May and the worry about what this AVM is doing to your knee in its spare time. And I HATE not having any answers for you. But I don’t. I can only promise to be with you every single step of the way.
And as I got your pills out yesterday morning, and I helped open your thyroid pills, I thought about the year since you had a complete thyroidectomy. It was just over a year ago you became a thyroid cancer “previvor” when your 19 nodules, including three precancerous ones, came out with your thyroid. It occurred to me for about the 5,000th time this year, that your thyroid is STILL not balanced. We don’t give up. We keep trying. But its you who has to wake up every day and
function ok soar, with levels that would leave people 2 and 3 times your age crying in their beds.
So when you took the block today, I took a moment to take it all in. I took a moment to take a good look at you, and I swear I could see the heart of a champion beating in your chest. I saw your green and black suit, and your prescription goggles, but in that moment I saw your raw heart. I saw the feisty determination that gets you through each day.
You might not have seen your best time on the board. But, me, I saw a champion.
The free dictionary defines a champion as: