Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Two weeks ago. Saturday night. I am almost asleep when the text comes. It is from my oldest son. The one in Phoenix. Nine hundred miles away.

 "Hurt my knee. On crutches on the sidelines."

"Bad?" I text back.

"Naw. Hyperextended it. Just need to rest. It'll be awright."

Later he texts me that a trainer has driven him to his apartment. He has ice on it. The next day he tells me it is a little bit better. I feel relieved.

Until Monday. When he tells me he will be having an MRI on Thursday.

And Thursday. When he tells me he will be having ACL surgery the following week.

He wants to give up. "I only came to school to play football," he says. "And now I can't do that." I might as well just come home." I talk him off the ledge. Call a semi-sympathetic coach. Get him to talk to my son.

I want to go. To be there. To take care of him.

But in the meantime, Son #2 has made a stupid stupid stupid 5 second teenager decision that has potential for huge, life changing legal ramifications. And I cannot leave the state. Because I have to take care of Son #2 and his issues.

I have to settle for phone calls with coaches and the athletic trainer.

The surgery is Friday.  We talk every day. I try to explain that he needs to go to the grocery store ahead of time. Stock up. Prepare. He spends $20 at 7-11.

Thursday night. "You scared?"

"Naw. It'll be awright."

I talk to him in the waiting room on Friday. He is still calm. Or at least he sounds calm on the phone.

The surgery is supposed to be at 7. He is supposed to be done by ten. Home by noon.

The coach texts and tells me he has dropped Son off. He will call when the surgery is over.

12:00 passes. 12:30. 1:00. 1:30. 

I cannot stand it anymore.  I call the coach. He tells me that the surgery did not start until after ten. I imagine my baby sitting in a waiting room by himself for three hours. I am sure he did not take a book.

He is waiting for my son to come out of surgery.

Two hours later, I get a call. My son is home. He is groggy but ok. The coach has picked up his prescriptions. His roommate, 18, talks to me. Reads the directions off the pill bottles.

"I'll take care of him," he assures me. And again, I so want to be there.

Saturday, my son, who never misses a practice, never complains after a game, never stays home sick, tells me his knee hurts. A lot.

I have never heard him say anything hurts. Even when he dislocated his thumb. Or ruptured his eardrum.  Never. And I know it hurts. A lot.

And I so want to be there. To take care of him. To remind him to do the knee machine. To give him pills at the right time. To make ice bags. To feed him.

And now we are ten days out. The boys lived, for a week, I think, on pizza, Seven-Eleven nachos and  Chinese delivery. But he is a little better. Or at least he tells me he is. And I so want to be there.

He will start physical therapy soon.  Insurance only pays for part of it. I will need to find another $400 a month. I wonder what else I can cut out of our budget.

And  he has missed a week of school. And he was never a strong student. I wonder what his grades will look like. Whether he will be able to go back next semester.

Whether he will want to go back.

What he will do if he doesn't.

What he will do if he can't play football again.

And I so want to be there. 


Katherine Sokolowski said...

Oh, Carol, I can hear your pain and desire through your writing. My thoughts and prayers are with both of your sons and you.

elsie said...

Oh Carol, my heart breaks for you and your sons. Your voice was so clear through this post. It's so hard when there is so much distance between you and your son.

Linda B said...

I'm so sorry for all of this, Carol. I can hear well the pull to Arizona, and the anxiety you are feeling. My thoughts are with you and your sons. Thank you for telling what's going on.

Michelle said...

Oh, just devastating! All the hope of the future now sidelined with so many uncertainties. What a tough, tight spot to be in and you just want to be there for him. Things will all work out. Maybe not your plan or your son's plan. There is a bigger plan. Be patient and look ahead.

You amaze me with your story telling abilities. The short lines. The repetition. The quick transitions through time. You had me hanging, wondering, reading faster and faster with a glimpse of hope. I'm still holding onto that hope. I hope you and your son do the same. You are there for him in so many ways without being right there. Hang in there.

Nanc said...

Ohh my aching heart...going through the ACL with my basketball daughter was so hard...especially the after ramifications of not finishing her senior season. Our hearts are breaking for you...too. But I am totally guessing that he will work as hard as a pro to rehab for the next season. Prayers, Carol for all three of you. I wanted to run to Denver to see Jeff for another kind of heartbreak last week. xo

Dana said...

Oh Carol... sending you one big hug and wishing for both your sons to be safe and healthy. Your story telling always amazes me and tugs at my heart.

Dana said...

Oh Carol... sending you one big hug and wishing for both your sons to be safe and healthy. Your story telling always amazes me and tugs at my heart. said...

While I too heard your heartache and pain as you wrote from your heart, I also heard your love and committment to your sons. I heard your determination to be with both of them through whatever means you could. I could see him holding up the cell phone complaining about the pain and releasing all of HIS angst to you before returning to watching ESPN reruns. I could hear him releasing HIS frustrations as yours mounted....and them HIS feeling better while you moved into quiet panic mode.
While I can connect to your post on many levels (including as the mom of a kid who went to college to play football), I know that the reality of your writing is as sharing of your love and caring for your boys at every wonderful and awful intersection of their lives.

Penny Jansen said...

I really feel your pain through this post...I'm so sorry...I hope there will be a silver lining..

Penny Jansen said...

I really feel your pain through this post...I'm so sorry...I hope there will be a silver lining..