Is it possible for a moment to be both uplifting and disheartening?
The other day my son’s friend came over to watch baseball together. Talk about a “play date” - they didn’t have those back in the 80s!
I hung out with them downstairs, playing the role of TV channel changer during commercial breaks or whenever a game lost their interest.
For a pair of 8 year olds, you’d be impressed with their knowledge of baseball. From the big picture of which teams are best positioned to challenge for the 2015 World Series to the smaller “inside baseball” intricacies that occur during a game, they had a blast chatting away and I enjoyed all the questions and comments they directed my way.
Soon they were re-enacting what they were seeing on the field, throwing around a nerf ball as if it were a baseball and they were on an actual baseball diamond. One of them would squat down as the catcher giving signs for the next pitch that the other would then throw across our living room.
Before I knew it they were discussing basketball and the youth league team they had just played on together. They started asking if we could shoot hoops on the basket in front of our house and after a bit of deliberation I agreed.
I reminded them the temperature was pushing 100 degrees outside so we couldn’t stay outside for too long. I also mentioned that I’d probably spend most of the time in the shade but before I could finish my sentence, Vincent told his friend:
“My Dad has MS, so he can’t be outside too long”.
It was a surreal moment. I’ve never heard Vincent talk about my disease with anyone and I really didn’t know quite how to respond. His friend took the comment in stride and outside we went to shoot some hoops.
His tone…the way he said, it was so caring and very protective of me and my condition. To see his empathy towards my limitation was a very tender moment…but I also felt sadness in my heart.
Fathers protect their families, not the other way around and in a perfect world “My Dad has MS…” would never be part of his vocabulary.
Later on in the afternoon, I told my wife I was going upstairs to lie down for a little bit. While I was saying goodbye to Vincent and his friend, my son was once again reassuring his buddy that everything was ok and letting him know how important it was for me to get my rest.