One of the last times I spoke with her before her most recent hospital stay, I was on a beach in Florida, not my usual quiet home office. Toes in the sand, I listened as she gave me a writing assignment, and watched 11 bikini-clad teen-age girls I had brought there for a soccer tournament dip their toes in the winter-cool water.
The girls’ laughter, the seagulls calling above and the surf hitting shore were sounds surely she could hear. So I fessed up. I’m the team manager, I told her, and I’d be returning home at the end of the week when the girls finished their four soccer matches. Then I would get started right away.
That’s when she told me that her own son once played a lot of soccer. When her battle began, however, several years ago, he gave it up. Not, she tells me, because of the logistics of getting to practice and games and all the time that playing youth soccer can suck out of a family’s schedule.
But because he knew she couldn’t be there.
Like a blast of sea air, she delivered a gift to me that I will carry for the rest of my mothering years. Out went the frustration of planning this team trip. Gone was the worry about the time I was spending away from my desk and the money it was costing us. Forever banished were the thoughts that I would never volunteer for such a task again.
The call ended and I stood up. Years’ worth of playing soccer-mom and all that means flashed past my eyes. The sun shone, and as I approached the water’s edge, I could see my beautiful daughter, now almost grown and nearly ready to leave for college.
And I could see this chance I had with her, and the team she’s played with since middle school, in a whole new light.