Saturday, February 9, 2013

Last Home Game

"Mom, don't cry," is what I heard.  "Well, I can't help it" was my reply.  I have been dreading this day for seven plus years and it has arrived.  I got it together, dried my eyes, grabbed his strong arm, and my 6' 0 handsome, baby boy escorted me to the middle of the gym floor.  It was senior night and the last home game. 

The water works began when I parked the car in the high school parking lot just 15 minutes before.  This mom is walking into the gym for the very last time to watch her son play his last game as a Spartan. Of course, it wasn't just the last game that made me so emotional, it was also that his dad was not going to be there and share with me this very special moment.  After all, we have been watching Garrett play basketball since he was five when he began playing Upward Basketball.  We have traveled many miles and sat in basketball gyms all over Texas. Basketball played a major part in our lives, and we loved every moment.  

Right before he walked onto the court, Garrett gave me note and a beautiful red rose. The coach greeted us on the court and presented Garrett a piece of the net from the basketball goals.  Garrett shot many of the balls that went through those nets....what an appropriate gift.  I remember the very first game that was played in that brand new shiny gym when G was a sophomore.  It was a preseason game and he made the very first basket.  That was so cool!  

Garrett's high school season started in 2009 when he was a freshman as an Elk at Burleson High School.  The following year, they opened the second high school and Garrett would be attending the new Burleson Centennial High School as a Spartan sophomore. 

Unfortunately, basketball and cancer have collided in our family.  In the summer of 2008, Garrett was playing summer league in Everman and I was reading in my car waiting on the game to begin and Pat to arrive.  I knew he had just been to the doctor for a follow up for a test he had done, but nothing to be anxious about.  He sat down in the passenger seat  of my car, but he didn't remove his sunglasses.  As he looked at me, I saw tears rolling down from under his black Ray bans.   He told me that he was diagnosed with stage one esophageal cancer.  Stunned and paralyzed we sat in that car.  Later the tears flowed, but we had to dry it up and go watch our son play ball.  That one sentence began the course of change in our lives and the life the five of us knew would never be the same.

In October 2010 was the beginning of basketball season and Garrett was a sophomore.  Pat arrived on a Saturday afternoon to watch G play in an all day tournament.  As I looked at Pat as he sat down, I saw that his eyes were very yellow.  After a rush to the ER and a battery of tests in the days to follow, Pat was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. 

In November 2011, Garrett was a junior and the season had begun.  On Monday, November 14th Pat watched Garrett score 30 points against South Hills High School.  That was Pat's last game to ever watch G play because 12 days later, Pat was promoted to Heaven.  I remember asking God why he would take Pat right in the middle of basketball season.  He answered me clearly with a question  "Because what gives you the most joy?"  That would be watching G play basketball....thank you God. 

So, you can see how basketball is not just a sport my son plays.  Basketball is the only sport Garrett has ever played and It has been so intertwined with our life journey and that journey has included pain, change and grief along with God's peace, joy, and favor. I am so thankful. I am thankful that God gifted my son with such talent and to give him something to focus on. He also used this sport to bring us together as a family a couple of times a week. A sport that has allowed our friends, life group, students, coaches and the community to show us love and share the joy of our favorite sport.

My heart has hurt these past couple of days and as always, time will heal. In the meantime, I will cherish the wonderful memories.   We still have one last exciting game on Tuesday against Burleson High School.  Yes, I will have tears as I leave that game.

One more time:  "Go Spartans!"  "Go #23!"

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