Table For Seventeen

Were I able to pick a more inappropriate time to have an “MD Moment,” I couldn’t have.  I certainly would never have selected last night’s celebration dinner honoring my son and three of his friends’ completion of the eighth grade as the moment to withdraw into my cocoon.  I wouldn’t have chosen a dinner with our friends and their families as my moment to retreat into the innermost recesses of my brain and lose myself in a future of muscular dystrophy-related what-ifs and whens.

If I could pick, I would pick not to know anything about muscular dystrophy.  Nope.  Step back further even–I’d pick that MD wasn’t even a thing.

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The four boys were having a grand old time on their end of the table, laughing at their hilarious (they obviously thought so) Apples To Apples card throw-downs or their YouTube shits and giggles.  Joyous teenage laughter echoed in the party room on one end of the table while the adults discussed movies (of which I’d seen none), boot camp fitness and long-distance running (in which I can participate in neither), and beer (which I do not drink).  Big mouth Wendy brought nada to the table, I served up a steaming, heaping bowl of jack squat.  I had nothing to add really, so I found myself watching my kid.  He looked happy, snickering with his friends, really happy.  The view was magnificent.

Someone asked the kids what their future plans were, you know, what do you want to be when you grow up?  Three of the four chimed with surety in their college majors, while mine said he hadn’t quite decided yet, and that is where the chink in my armor split wide open.  And not because I believe a fourteen-year-old can or should be expected to declare his college major.

But because his future holds more uncertainty than theirs, evident already.  I watched him with children–nay, young men now–young men he’s known since he was four years old, and was reminded again that he was different.  His two-handed death grip on his pint glass (filled with water, of course!) looks different than the casual way his friends held theirs, and for reasons unknown to me, I was undone.  His future is certain to bring progressive decline in his motor skills–his friends don’t have to think about that, and neither do their parents.

And I KNOW that his disease could be worse.  And I KNOW tomorrow is a guarantee for none of us.  Today is a gift we should rip open and hold up to the sky like The Lion King’s baby Simba heralded for all the world to behold!  Knowing to seize the gift of right here, right now, and actually grasping it are two distinct acts of behavior however, and sometimes, the dark side wins.

It won last night.

But now there’s today.  THIS is the reason I keep this little journal here.  Writing gives me a repository, a box to dump all my crap, organize the crap, and pack up the crap for never again.  Today, the sun is shining.  I’m distracted by my students’ musings and my end-of-the-school–year preparations–thank stars for a lunch hour reprieve.  I’m so proud of and excited for my son’s completion ceremony.  OH!  And MDA Summer Camp is less than a week away.  I’ll be carpe-ing the heck out the diem this week, I promise.  Well, I’m sure gonna try.

3 thoughts on “Table For Seventeen

  1. It’s so hard, I can’t even begin to understand. I have worries about my son’s future, but not like that. It was so good though, the way you described him with his friends, so happy in that moment. What a proud momma you must be😊

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  2. One minute you’re enjoying a perfectly lovely dinner, the next minute the darkness creeps in. Grief rears its ugly head at the oddest times. In most cases we grieve the past, but you’re faced with grieving the loss of what might occur in the future, and you’re reminded of it daily. It sucks! I wish I could change it for you, my friend.

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  3. You never have to pretend to feel good when you don’t, Wendy. Sure it could be worse, but that doesn’t mean you need to feel grateful for that. If you feel like sh!t about it, then say so… and then keep on doing the good work you do for MDA.org; you’re an effective advocate for them precisely because you embrace your anxieties and then use them to fuel action rather than stunt it.

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