Today was hard. Getting Josh in the car was much more difficult than I’d hoped. His dad came along to help. It was the first time, I’d had anyone go with me on a Josh appointment. And even though in the past, I’d managed (solely by the Grace of God) to get him to and from check-ups and MRI’s and therapy sessions all by myself, the present situation seems heavier. It’s like the load has increased, even though the circumstances are clearly not as severe as last time we went through this…. not that it’s ever ceased at all. But the roller coaster ride of this storm just seems so fragmented this go-round.
I feel weak. My back and neck have been killing for days and I just can’t seem to plan and communicate with Josh well on the techniques that are needed to move him safely. After a difficult day commuting to the med center, Josh made a decision that would be a HUGE FIRST for this family. He said he didn’t feel like it was safe to try and transfer from the car with just me, and decided not to try and attend our son’s football game tonight.
Lil Josh has played football since he was 6 years old. It was his first love and it’s brought me so much joy watching him over the years. But my emotions couldn’t compare to how it made his dad feel. That lil guy has always been his dad’s pride and joy. He just lights up bragging about our son and sharing his video clips of his awesome plays. In many ways, I think it’s been one of the most driving factors of his recovery. Last year, Josh was determined to get well enough to make Lil Josh’s first football game. Even though he was in a wheelchair, he was there.
Ten minutes before the game Lil Josh called my phone, “Mom! Where are ya’ll at? The game’s about to start!” He sounded worried. I told him I was almost at the stadium. “Dad too right?” He asked me. I explained how much Josh wanted to be there. But it was just impossible this time for me to get him in the car by myself.
I knew the game would be somewhat emotional for me, worrying about how Josh was doing at home, (although I knew he’d be fine with his mom there watching him), and wondering how my son would feel taking the field without his dad there cheering him on. I know this may sound silly to some but football was THEIR THING. It’s just this strong bond they had together – it always has been this magical connection between son and father. Josh poured his heart into training our son and teaching him everything he knew about the sport. And, Josh wouldn’t miss watching his kid play football for ANYTHING. Yet, today, he had no choice.
I found a seat alone in the stands and it took me awhile to find Josh – he wasn’t in warm-ups with his team. Then I spotted a tall, lean kid throwing a football back and forth in the endzone with another player, wearing the number 17. Well…That did it for me. I started balling. I’ve asked him so many times to wear 17, but he never would. Seven has always been his number, because that was his father’s number back when he used to play football. But tonight, to my surprise, my son was wearing MY number!
Lil Josh didn’t play like himself tonight. I knew deep down he was only partially in attendance. A piece of his love for the game was missing tonight and that was clear to me. But the angels were there with us, comforting us. Even though I felt so strange sitting in those grandstands by myself…. I know I wasn’t alone. The Lord is with us each step of this journey. He’s there catching every single tear I cry and storing them in his bottle. Every first I face and the heartbreak that looms reminding me of how different our life is now and everything we’ve lost, I still somehow find peace and strength to get through those moments.
In a strange way, I think the Lord gave Lil Josh that jersey tonight. Lil Josh would’ve never chosen it on his own. Tonight God gave me 17… my number on my baby boy’s back.
After the game, Lil Josh said he’s thinking of hanging up the helmet for awhile. I can’t begin to imagine all of the things that goes through this sweet boy’s thoughts. I know this has all been tougher on him than probably any of us. But, whatever he decides and whatever path he takes, I believe God’s plan will be completed in my children. And on the other side of hurt and disappointment and the heaviness of these trials, we will reach a beautiful place one day…