I am often teased that I love Ben the most. I do admit that I worry about Ben the most. And raising a child with diabetes is very overwhelming. But I want to take a timeout from my T1 rantings and tell a story about my oldest son, who does not have diabetes (knock on wood) … (I actually just smacked my knuckles on my wooden kitchen table and it hurt a little bit.) I want to tell a story about perseverance, about wanting something badly, and being willing to work for it.
The story starts seven years ago when my oldest son Garren was in 1st grade. He had made some new friends at school and many of them played hockey. Soon Garren asked Jeff and me if he could play hockey too. He wanted to be on the same team as his new buddies. Jeff explained that he couldn’t just join their hockey team he needed to learn to skate first. We found a learn to skate program in a neighboring town and signed Garren up.
Now Garren was starting his hockey career a little late. (Hard to believe that starting in 1st grade is late, but it is.) Garren had some catching up to do. Garren spent the next 6 years working on his skating and hockey skills. He didn’t always make the team that he had hoped for, but he never complained. And he never quit.
Fast forward to this year, Garren’s last year playing town youth hockey, Garren made the A team and was finally playing with all his friends. They had a good season, winning more games than losing, and they went into the playoffs feeling confident.
The team won their first two nail-biting playoff games and made it to the championship game. As is usually the case, our family was split up among hockey rinks that day and I was the one driving Garren to this game. And as usual, the car was quiet I was listening to NPR on the radio and Garren had his headphones on listening to whatever nonsense was on his itouch.
At one point during the ride, Garren took his headphones off, tapped my shoulder and he said, “Mom, I really, really want to win this game.” I could see in his face that he really meant it. I reminded him, “Remember the kids from the other team really, really want to win this game too. You need to want to win it more.” Garren nodded his head in agreement. He then put his headphones back on and the only voices left were from the folks on NPR.
Once we arrived at the rink, Garren ran off to the locker room and I waited in my warm car for the game to start. Eventually, bundled up in my “hockey mom” quilted parka I left the warm car to watch Garren’s last SMS Bantam hockey game, the championship game.
The game is fast and furious. After the 1st period the game is tied 0 to 0. After another 20 minutes the game remains tied at 0. Well into the 3rd period there is still no score. I start praying for Garren’s team to score soon. I hate overtime. And a shootout is even worse! (I have no more nails left to bite.) Miraculously, with a few minutes left in the game Garren’s teammate scores! The game is now 1 to 0 with only a few minutes left to play.
The energy level of all the players is now crazy high. Garren’s team fights the other team off. Then a timeout is called. When the players return to the ice there is exactly 1 minute left on the clock. Garren is out on the ice for what will be his very last shift. The puck is being dropped near the other team’s net.
Now I can’t remember every detail because it all happened so fast. But after the puck was dropped Garren got hold of it. He takes the puck and pins it against the boards behind the other team’s net. Then he begins to play a game of “keep away” from 3 kids (big kids) from the other team. Now these kids want the puck badly and they knock Garren, check him and cross check him. Garren is getting a beating. But he still has the puck. I look at the clock 50 seconds left. Garren gets smacked around some more, 45 seconds left. I leap up in the stands and start cheering for Garren.
Then in one magical moment I felt my heart overflow. I lost my breath. I can no longer scream Garren’s name. I am no longer watching my 14-year-old son play hockey. Instead I see Garren. I mean really “see” him.
I see a boy who is willing to take a beating for his friends.
I see a boy who is willing to give everything for his team.
I see a boy who is willing to stand up when his name is called.
I see a boy who will not quit.
And I see the man this boy will grow up to be.
Garren keeps the puck for a few more seconds. My guess is that he had that puck for at least 20 seconds. Soon his teammate (the boy he always wanted to play with) has joined Garren in his game of “keep away”. Together they battle the 4 players from the other team while their 5th player waits at center ice for a long pass, covered carefully by Garren’s teammate.
With only seconds left on the clock the puck gets passed to another one of Garren’s teammates, who is waiting right in front of the net. He scores with .5 second left on the clock but the clock ticks to 0. Game over. Hockey gloves are thrown in the air. The goalie skates toward the center of the ice and the boys pig pile on him.
I am so happy for Garren. I am so proud. But maybe proud is not the right word. Proud implies I am taking some credit for Garren’s success. But I can’t. All I did was spend the last seven years whining about waking up early and spending late nights in cold hockey rinks. He earned it all himself. Instead I am honored. I am honored that God gave me Garren and I have the privilege of calling him my son.