If my Fitbit is to be believed, our family scaled the equivalent of 52 flights of stairs yesterday. We spent the afternoon at the breathtakingly verdant Devils Lake State park in central Wisconsin. I’ll save you the geography lesson, but suffice it to say that the glaciers left a flawless diamond lake in their wake as they flowed and melted centuries ago. We visit once or twice annually, and yesterday was our first visit in the afterworld (after the MD diagnosis, of course, not the spectre-y kind of afterworld, although Devils Lake would be an incredible place to be sentenced to roam for eternity if such a world exists. I’d probably be the good kind of ghost mostly, although it would be kinda fun once in awhile to scare the shit out of the jerks littering this magnificent setting with their garbage. A-holes. Maybe I’d be a 95% good apparition and 5% scary one except that in my scaring these jerks I’d be doing something for the greater good, so I’m right back up to about 99% good probably. What?? Fine. I guess I’ll explore my “If I Were a Ghost” novel in a different forum some other time then.)
Aaaaanyway. The four of us hiked our butts off. To circumnavigate the lake, one covers about 4.6 miles of some flat, but mostly not, terrain. My big kid wanted to do the easier trail, but lost the argument. “We can do hard things” I told him when he fussed, and I’m not gonna lie–the mantra helped me keep it in gear too, and my legs are ridiculously muscular for a girl. We took breaks as often as were requested, which was less often than you’d think in fact. It was hard going up, AND it was hard coming down. I don’t think the kids were as prepared for that, hoping for a gentle incline to skate on out. But you don’t go up the equivalent of 50+ flights of stairs and coast down gently; you hard-climb down. When we gained enough distance for perspective, I asked the kids to look up, to look just how far we had gone. They were each impressed with their performances, apparently having forgotten they’d done it before two years earlier.
There was an advertisement for ice skating on TV last night, and my big kid asked if we could skate today for the last big hurrah before school begins Tuesday. My husband begins working hideous hours Tuesday as well, covering various shifts including two in a row and/or two 8-hour shifts within a 24-hour period. Yeah. Effing public servitude, so “fun days” are soon going to be as rare as Halley’s Comet. Anytime our big kid requests doing something even remotely physical or active, we are pretty much all in, my husband and me. We live about seven miles from the ice rink where the US Olympic Speed Skating Team trains, an impressive refrigerator of a venue, so hey, why not ice skate in August? We explained that skating would be hard, and that they’d probably fall (yeah, it’s gonna hurt a touch), but to get back up and keep marching on the ice. With the donning of the skates came trepidation. You could just about smell the nerves emanating off my kid. We hit the ice, and I swear to the sky, The Old Apartment by Barenaked Ladies blasted through their sound system. We all kinda took it as a sign, high-fived each other, and off we went (except for my husband who was like, “Really? Even here I can’t escape your songs?”).
Both boys were edgy, but now singing, so there was that to distract from their fear, and both held on to the rails for dear life. There would be no crashing of the boards this afternoon, for we are not a hockey people. My older boy verbalized his goal to make it on the ice for two laps. Think about that, people. His GOAL was to go around an ice rink–not the speed skating track–a hockey rink, twice. That’s how hard it is for him. It took him FOREVER. FOREVER. Many stops including a welcome respite in the penalty box sans infraction, allowed him to rest enough to persist. The gifts of balance and endurance are not ones bestowed upon individuals with MD, so ice skating is, I would surmise, akin to hell for him. His subtype of MD affects the muscles that attach at his shoulders and hips, so there’s no “easier” way to skate. Pulling himself along the edge of the rink is as awkward as trying to glide balanced on one boot blade. But he did it. In his before world, he’d have been much more eager to give up. He’d never have even talked about setting a goal, much less have even thought to have a goal. He’d have sat down and been done. I’d have accused him of being lazy.
It got me to wondering whether this will be the last time he will ever ice skate. Will this be the first last thing he does?