Real Gurl Life! Real, meaning authentic, true, and comfortable in our own shoes. Gurl, incorrectly spelled, to acknowledge that some days just don't go right, no matter how hard we try. We are messy, make mistakes, and don't follow directions sometimes. Real Gurl Life is Authentically Imperfect!
There are things and
people that come to mind, especially when the day is long and the night is
dark. This is one of those times. The memories that I treasure make me smile
involuntarily. Certain grins, SportsCenter being watched over themorning cereal bowl, March Madness brackets,
asthma kept hidden so the game could continue, and not getting home each
weekday until 9 p.m. because we went to 3 different team practices after
school. Oh yeah, and 3-pointers too!
If I go wayyyy back,
there was the boy in the playpen at 9 months old, parked right behind the
backstop so momma could keep the scorebook. Every single pitch over the plate
that boy would grunt with the batter as he swung away. He started watching ball
on t.v. about that time too.He would
stand mesmerized in front of the television in the family room. He grew up to
be able to argue just about any sports statistic and when he started winning
over his father, well, he was king, if but for a minute.
He was always a
lover. He really had a heart connection with his momma. As we drove to daycare
one day, he reached over to hold my hand and laced his fingers in mine. He
looked up at me ever-sweetly and said, “Mom, my fingers are smiling.” Wow. My
HEART was smiling.
came around, he was already choosing his own clothes and was always spot-on in
his selections. He was also so prepared each morning, collecting any papers,
homework, and eventually sports gear, to make sure he was ready for the day. He
was ahead of his age bracket in his daily rituals.
I wasn’t the only one
who felt this way. Each morning as our family van lumbered to the grade school to drop
him off for kindergarten, the two older siblings and I would just sigh as we
watched him walk in to the building. He was just so cool. I swear he was the
one who started slinging his backpack over one shoulder and he was definitely
the only one who could make a jean jacket with Mickey Mouse on the back look
GQ. We were, and are still, his fans.
The time between
grade school and now seems mostly filled with the world of sports. Even with
asthma, he wanted to play every sport, every day, every time, every team. If
memory serves me correctly (which it may not), he started running cross country
in 4th grade. From there we added flag football, school soccer and
club soccer, and of course, school basketball and two community basketball
teams. He was busy from sun-up to sun-down and though he would be hungry and
tired when he got home each night, he was having fun. Woe to the nights,
especially in summer, when the organized activity waned, when he would find it
difficult to sleep at night. His engine would rev and roar as he fought bursts
of energy to fall asleep.
I can’t tell you
much about the high school years. I did not get to be there for those. Another
woman played the role of mom, and however that played out, I appreciate that he had
someone in that role. I missed him terribly but I was in the fight for my life and did not
make very good decisions. If I had my wits about me, he would have been with
me. But that is another story, and quite possibly not mine to tell.
I CAN tell you that
his high school basketball team, a small, private school team, won the state
playoffs during his junior and senior year. I was able to make the trip to see
the senior year playoffs. This was truly the highlight of those years for me. I
made it to the arena and found my seat in an already crowded and noisy venue.
The other team was warming up but his team was not on the floor yet. I sat,
anxious but happy, watching for him. My eyes darted all around, diligently
The other folks
sitting in my row were all together.There were about eight of them. The odd thing was they weren’t cheering
for any particular team. They were locals and had the same seats for years.
They just came for the fun of it. I made friendly talk with a couple of the
ladies and the story of my long trip and player on a team soon made it down the
row. Eventually, the entire row was cheering with me for his team. It was a
Back to the
warm-ups….His team finally dribbled in and parted into two lines to make shots
and rebound. I finally saw him. He was dribbling but he wasn’t looking where he
was going. His eyes were scanning the arena with about 12,000 seats and tons of
noise and people scurrying about.
It didn’t take him
but 10 seconds and his eyes met mine. There, in the gigantic arena, he found
me. He did not know where my seat was or if I had even made it to the arena
yet. But he found me. When he did, he gave me a little dip of his head to
acknowledge me, and promptly ran up to make his lay-in.
It was a glorious,
long-weekend, capped off by his team winning state and my entire row of
basketball fans cheering so loudly with claps and whistles and hollers. This is
a memory that hangs in my mind often.
from high school, the real disconnect began. It’s difficult to have
conversations that are open and meaningful with a young adult but over the
phone and long-distance has to be the worst. I found myself asking questions
and talking about nothing important just to keep him on the phone for a little
bit longer. It began to feel like an obligation to reach out to me, though he
never acted that way or mentioned anything of the sort. He was always patient and polite, maybe a little bit disinterested, or maybe just uncomfortable. Our easy way between us had up and left.
Each call I felt a
bit of my heart slipping away but without any power to stop it. He was going
through tough times: college, home life, money, and jobs. Things that he did
not always feel he could share with me. At that age boys are trying to be men.
Leaning on your mother doesn’t quite fit that mold.
I should add, I
probably wasn’t worth leaning on either. I was still dealing with my own demons
and they would keep me pre-occupied for next ten years or so. I just couldn't be much help.
Then, this past
summer, I saw him!
I was at the
athletic club pool with my roommate and his 3-year old son. We go once a week
to be out in the sun and to enjoy summer. I love to be tan, so I am mostly
there for the rays.
I looked up rather
nonchalantly and saw him, just going through the pool gate with a couple of
girls. It was him! I would know those long legs, lanky, lean body, and messy
blonde hair. He wore a basketball branded t-shirt and those long basketball
shorts with the Jordan/Nike emblem on the lower leg with flip flops. As he
passed through the gate, he held it open for the two girls, looking down on
them and smiling at whatever they were saying. They moved down the sidewalk and
my heart started yelling.
“Hey! I’m over here!
Why didn’t anyone tell me you came to town? Hey! Hey! Oh….wait. Is that him?
Oh. No. It sure looks like him. Wow. Just like him.”
He will be 26 years
old on his next birthday in January. I don’t think I have heard from him in
about three years. Between the lines of all of the sweet and good of this
story, there is also immeasurable brokenness, disappointment, misunderstanding, lack of
communication, and downright awfulness. I couldn’t tell you exactly which one
is the reason for the break in our relationship. I wasn’t given any kind of
notification of a change or break. I just know it seems irretrievably broken. I
no longer have a valid phone number for him and I no longer know his address.
I could not fix this if I tried. It
will take a miracle.
When the day is long
and the night is dark, this is one of the stories that tells itself. It's on the DVR in my mind, ready to roll at a moment's notice.
One day, I was
lamenting about my broken family, longing for a chance to make things right,
just a chance to hear their hearts. As I spoke out loud I found myself saying,
“There is just no way to fix this. There is too much pain, too much time gone
by, way too many hurt feelings. How could this ever be made right? This is not something that just one person
saying ‘sorry’ can fix. Only God can fix this.”
About that moment, I
felt a nudge from God, saying, “Thank you. I will take it from here.” I felt
silly behaving like I had any control whatsoever. I have to admit it and let it go.
I have no idea if I
will live to see this relationship restored. All I can say is that I love him
with all my heart. I beg forgiveness for my part in our broken family. I am
sorry for any hurt I caused, whether it seemed intentional or unintentional. I
do not hold anything against him. I only have love in my heart and hopes for
the best. Perhaps one day he will remember some of the sweet and the good that
I think about it every single day. I will hope until forever, however I do believe that God knows best and I will always trust in Him.