"IT DOESN'T MATTER WHERE YOU LEARNED IT- IT'S A GIFT. IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT. IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.”
(Owen's words in the book are always capitalized to portray his unique sounding voice and the unusual way he projects it.)
He has been so grumpy- my oldest. Still my baby- forever my baby. But bigger, stronger- having to fold himself over to reach down and hug me. So often not wanting to anymore. But I still try- grabbing whatever piece of him I can- an arm, his hand, the side of his face. A light squeeze, a hand stroke across his hair, the feel of his whiskers on my cheek as I try to sneak up behind him, beside him.
He is almost 14. Its normal that he pushes back. Ducks. Dodges. Raises his crabby voice and tells me to leave him alone. Enough already. Stop.
But my urgency for him to remember is strong.
The feel of my touch. The softness of my voice. My heart that beats through my chest, thrumming with love through every vein in my body. For him.
My time is now. Today. This moment.
Owen Meany's words pour straight into my heart.
"IF YOU CARE ABOUT SOMETHING, YOU HAVE TO PROTECT IT."
He is (they are) my "something."
"IF YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND A WAY OF LIFE YOU LOVE, YOU HAVE TO FIND THE COURAGE TO LIVE IT.”
And they are this too- my way of life that I love. Finding courage, each day, is what I feel I have been doing.
But so are they…
My own child isn't just pushing against me, he is railing against the hard. The grades that have dropped a bit. The pressure to stand out amongst the best in hockey. The sore muscles, the early mornings, the right foods. The new team he will skate with this weekend, with kids he mostly doesn't know, but are tauted as being talented. The hotel we will stay at this weekend, with the pool in which he won't use to swim- the discipline it takes to decide that at 13.
His way of "life that he loves," is hockey - has always been- and will always be as long as he wants to pursue the dream.
But he has found it won't be easy. He rails at me, at his Dad. His soft place to fall, within the walls of our home. "Can you not see how hard this is for me? How bad I want it? How hard I work?" And as he reaches the emotional crescendo… the Grand Daddy of them all…
"CAN'T YOU SEE HOW HARD IT IS TO HAVE A MOM WHO HAS CANCER? WHO IS ALWAYS SICK? YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS LIKE!"
And I am broken. He is broken. We… are broken.
(Thank you LaVerne)
Its long hours of talking and soothing and calming with Superman. And then the boy emerges and hugs me good night without uttering a word.
He sleeps late and misses the bus the next morning. Rick has an early meeting.
"I can drive," I say. "I'm driving again, so I can take you." He nods approval.
We're quiet on the drive over. I'm treading lightly. Unsure. Whispering to God.
I pull up in front of the school and he is out the door before I barely have the van in park. But he hesitates as he goes to shut the door. "Thanks Mom."
I nod and shyly smile back.
As I go to shift into drive, I notice he is still hesitating…
Quietly, searching my eyes, he whispers,
"Mom… mom, I love you."