My oldest son and I drove across the bridge connecting Washington to Oregon, the Columbia twinkling like diamonds as the last of the sun fell into the horizon. The river was flanked with trees that are changing -- the birch tree leaves have turned golden and the maples are flushed with feverish red. The early night matched my good spirits -- a shift in the air. You see, tonight I saw my oldest son score a goal in hockey. He has done this many times, but this was a first for me.
I wrote about this in a book I have been writing. A chapter, that happily, will need to be revised. Here it is:
It was hard on his brother. There was a time that Sean would hit him for no apparent reason or yell at him. We were grateful that our oldest boy was such a patient and kind little boy. He felt bad for his brother and sad that his brother didn’t always seem well. He loved Sean. When Sean would cry at night his brother would grab his pillow and sleep next to him. So many mornings I found them rolled up like crepes, together, their sweet faces touching. When Sean would yell and cry it was his brother who after looking at my tired face would go to his brother, rub his shoulders and say calmly, “It’s okay, Sean. Don’t be sad. Do you want to watch cartoons?” When I would lose my temper with Sean, his brother would look at me his eyes pleading, “Don’t Mommy. He’s just going to get more upset.” At times he understood Sean more than I did.
As our son got older, it was harder for him to get along with Sean. Sean would bother his friends when they came to the house, poking and pinching them. It was embarrassing. When I would go to my older son’s soccer games I spent the whole time keeping Sean from running onto the field. At hockey games I stayed with Sean in the parking lot or the car, the loudness of the rink too much for him.
“Did you see my goal, Mom?” he asked. His face flushed and his body overtaken by an enormous green and black hockey duffel bag.
“Sorry, bud, I didn’t see it.” I said sheepishly, grabbing his stick.
“Why not?” his smile slowly fading.
“Sean didn’t last in the rink. I had to take him outside. He was getting too loud and he kept covering his ears. Let‘s go. He‘s out in the car.”
“Oh,” he whispered, “Well anyways, it was awesome -- a one-timer shot.”
To this day I have never seen my son score a goal in hockey. He’s a heck of a player -- I know that because that’s what the coaches tell me. “Plays with so much heart.” I would do anything to see his next goal, to see him windmill his stick, skate on one foot, high-five the other players.
He took it all in stride. No complaining or whining. He understood - a boy wiser than his years. His brother spilled his paints, left the caps off of markers, tore up his baseball cards, hid the Wii controller and peed in his bed -- they were all forgivable offenses. No grudges were held. Maybe he’d be frustrated, sigh loudly but he would always end with a soft, “It’s okay, Sean.“ All was forgiven in his brother’s eyes.
And that made me feel worse. I wanted him to tell me that it wasn’t fair. That he was sick of Sean ruining everything. I wanted him to shout, “Enough already!” But he never did. He remained loyal to his little brother. He protected him and made every attempt to love him in spite of the time and attention that Sean took away from him. He would never look at it like that. In his mind, Sean had been dealt a heavy blow and it was up to the rest of us to make adjustments.
So tonight, my son and I smiled all the way home. I am so proud of the boy he is. I am so happy to be his mom. I am beyond thrilled to see him score a goal, his arms pumping over his head, his stick waving in the air.
11 months ago