In a sense, it ended just as it began: with just the right doctor at just the right time. Yesterday, exactly eight weeks after my ten-year-old had surgery on his broken arm, we had his last appointment and X-ray. The doctor we met with was not one we’d seen before, but he was just the person we needed to see. He happened to be a Little League Minors coach, which is what my son plays, so he spoke baseball. He gave Rass the official OK to return to the game (with his brace on) and offered some keen words of wisdom. Be honest—with yourself and your coach—if things hurt. Make good decisions, on the playground and out on the field. If you refracture your arm, life will be no fun. I believe he delivered exactly the words that Rass, and I, needed to hear.
You see, he has already played a bit in two games. The first was last weekend. I sat anxiously watching him on a cold, rainy, dismal Saturday. He handled the ball zero times and struck-out twice. The only action he encountered was during warm-ups, when a ball bounced up and hit him in the mouth, chipping a tooth.
He has experienced many emotions during the healing process. Disappointment. Discouragement. Frustration. Just two weeks ago, when his cast was removed and he got his brace on, he was fearful, cautious and protective. That night, he said “I’m just gonna leave my brace on all night. I don’t want to shower. I don’t want to see my arm. I don’t want to do anything” I told him that was fine. Shortly after that, when I left for a meeting, he changed his tune. As he sat with my mom and my husband Mo, he decided to take the brace off so Grandma could rub some lotion on the dry, scaly arm. Soon, he was sobbing. For a good ten to fifteen minutes. My mom and Mo asked him what was going on. “I’m just so happy,” he said. As he sat there, reunited with an arm that was weak yet healed, his tears finally turned. They weren’t ones of sadness or longing. At ten years old, he experienced his first tears of joy.
So last night was his medically cleared, official return to pitching. As he took the mound in the third inning, I expected to be the one bawling, overcome with emotion, unable to see the screen of my iPad to score the game. I wasn’t. The flood gates didn’t open, the skies didn’t part, an ESPN crew didn’t descend upon the elementary school field to document his return. It was a rather quiet affair. But to see him step up there, calmly and cooly, and to return to the place that feels like home to him, made my heart sing. I simply repeated “thank you” several times.
On that mound, on a sunny, breezy Thursday night, the fear and caution were gone.
The confidence and gracefulness were back.
Today, my heart continues to sing.
And he has returned.