I got a glimpse of his expression just as the accident occurred. Big eyes, open mouth, his body rigid as he prepared for the impact. He tipped over and the pedal slammed into his knee before scraping the shinbone. I rushed toward him as I listened. Not a sound. He was sitting on the ground clinging to his knee. The pain and the tears distorted his face.
As I got there the built up anger had regained its voice. He put his head back as he furiously roared: “I will never, never, never ever ride a bike again! Ever! At least not on asphalt!”
I held on to the hurting knee and leg until the worst pain wore off. He didn’t cry because of the pain anymore, but from the frustration and the humiliation. He still rested in my arms but only for a little while. Then, all of a sudden, he jerked away as he stared incredulously at me. Even as I had held him tight with his back leaning against me he had sensed a tiny smirk in the corner of my mouth and a slightly amused expression in my eyes. I had tried to hide it, but he knew his mom. He knew when something was off, and this was oh so terribly wrong. Did I not understand how horrible he felt? How could I respond so lightly to something so very difficult to him?
I assured him that I truly understood and that we would grab some ice to calm the swelling as soon as we got back home. He still stared angrily at me. Even then I had to struggle to hold back an unwelcome, stupid grin.
Memories from behind the blue veil
As we drove home I thought back. Less than a year before he had been in a wheelchair, extremely ill. We were taking turns looking after him, as he needed medical assistance most of the time. Throughout his whole life Adrian had suffered from a progressive illness, and his body was spent and fragile. We had talked about going on a family vacation to create memories for the rest of the family to live on after he was gone. The doctors had told us that if we ever wanted to do it, this would be our window of opportunity. Next year he would be too frail. That is, if he was still alive.
How do you prepare yourself to lose a child? I don’t know; I certainly never found out. Every joyful moment was received the same way as we lived through the agonizing ones – with gratitude. We cherished every moment that we got to spend with our son. Scarcity will do that to you. When you realize that time is scarce and valuable you embrace every moment with the ones you love. The thought of living without him was unbearable.
The journey of a lifetime. A divine encounter carrying the hope of a future. One heavenly touch and he was healed.
Adventuring out of the comfort zone
The thin blue veil of grief lingered with me for just a second. My son’s offended snorts brought me back just in time to see the imaginary veil float out off the car window.
“I didn’t expect it to be so difficult!” He was calming down gradually while still choking. “It looks so easy when you see the toddlers going on their little bikes. But learning how to ride a bike when you’re twelve is hard!”
Of course it was. He knew exactly how much it would hurt every time he fell off. He could easily imagine the consequences if he crashed into a car, a house or worse, a child. He knew and he still got up on that bike. He accepted the two-wheeled humiliation and the agony, and he learned how to ride it.
Maybe you’re not prepared for what’s ahead of you. You know it might be stressful, and it sure will hurt if you fall. You might even wander way out of your comfort zone. But once you choose to accept the humiliation and the agony of the learning process you will learn how to ride it.
It is the uneasy bliss of growth.