It was somewhere around 2:00 in the afternoon a couple of Sundays ago when I felt that feeling. Driving home with the boys after a lovely weekend with my family, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a very strong intuitive feeling of concern for Steve and the boys, who were in Colorado skiing.
This isn't your normal mother's intuition, the one that tells you during your bathroom "break" that a toddler is drawing all over the walls with a Sharpie, or that the mysteriously quiet house means two boys have decided to take homeschool science into their own hands, and it involves flammables and a lighter.
It's deeper than that.
The feeling doesn't overwhelm me very often, but when it does, I can almost always be certain that it's soon to be followed by a difficult or stressful event. The first time I experienced it, I was in high-school, and ever since then it has been a pretty accurate predictor of everything from bad break-ups to flight delays.
At first I tried to talk myself out of the possibility that anything could potentially be wrong. After all, I did have some pretty convincing photo evidence that their manly trip to the mountains was nothing short of fantastic.
Hey mom, we're on top of the world!
He has my baby....in a bar! (Sweet Home Alabama?)
Stuffed with the "most amazing pizza in the whole entire world!"
I obviously had nothing to worry about, right?
Nasty intuition. Of course it wouldn't go away, so I did what I usually do when the feeling gets to nagging me - I began to pray. Then, the phone rang. It was you know who.
I did the whole Jesus take the wheel thing, took a deep breath, and waited for the voice on the other end to deliver the news.
Hi Honey. We're in the ER. George fell on the mountain and broke his right collar bone.
What was screaming in my head: They were racing, weren't they????
You let them race down the mountain on the last run????
He's going to be fine. The rest of us are okay, I'll call you later with more details.
What I said: Okay, be safe (haha), I love you all.
The very second the name George passed through the receiver, my heart broke in two.
I hope I don't sound insensitive when I say that if it were any of the other boys, I wouldn't have been as upset as I was over George. But, its true.
George has been counting down the days until baseball and track club practices begin. His heart condition limits the sports he can participate in (no high-contact or high-exertion), including football, wrestling, and basketball, all of which are his first loves.
I admire him so much for trying to stay positive despite his limitations, but its impossible for him to hide the sadness that stirs deep inside his heart while pacing the sidelines at all of the football games and wrestling meets he so desperately wants to be a part of.
When they arrived home the next day, the very first thing George said to me was, "Does this mean I can't run track? What about baseball, is that out too?"
I don't know why God allows some of our children to struggle and to suffer more than others. It's easy for me as an adult to look George in the eye and tell him with deepest sincerity and truth that God has a great plan for his life, and that his injuries and ailments are all a part of that plan. For Geoge to believe me - that's the hard part.
If it seems as though nothing positive can possibly come out of an unexpected injury, I want to reassure you that it very well can.
The day-to-day energy and activity in our home is full of a mixture of emotions and conversations that spring from brotherly competition, teasing, laughing, fighting...they are just normal boys. But, when one guy is down, all the other guys come to the rescue. They take comfort and take care of each other in the most amazing ways.
Children are capable of exhibiting so much more kindness and compassion that we realize.
Henry insisted that George wear his favorite Spider Man pajamas, even though they're 2 sizes too small. He looks like a Hobbit with those high waters and big feet!
The night after George's appointment with the orthopedist, he needed a lot of help from both Steve and I to get in and out of the shower and dress himself. After we finished, I opened the door to our bedroom only to find five brothers waiting patiently outside, wondering how their injured teammate was faring.
Andrew was the first person in. He went straight over to George (who was still crying from the discomfort of getting his brace and sling back on), and asked him what he could do to help. Not satisfied with the "nothing" answer, he left the room and promptly came back with a hair dryer.
Can I dry your hair for you, George? Would that make you feel better?
Really? Steve and I just looked at one another in total amazement.
You all know by now that I was doing the pregnant cry, all the while the boys were shouting between giggles, "Yeah! Spike it up! Give him a mohawk!" It was an 80's hair event to behold.
People often love others in the way that they want to be loved. I learned a lot about Andrew's heart that day, and have been so thankful that the boys' hearts have all been stretched in charity and thoughtfulness, to think more of someone else and less of themselves in the present circumstances.
I hope that one day George will be able to look back on this time and remember what it felt like to be loved and cared for by his brothers, and that those memories will overcome the sadness that he has felt from missing a springtime of baseball and track.