Saturday, October 04, 2008

A bittersweet evening...

Tonight unfolded into an interesting mix of heartache and a little bit of glory all at the same time. My son's little friend who was in the horrible accident came home yesterday--earlier than most of us expected he would. The kids on our street had planned to greet him with signs and cheering welcome home.

This little boy has suffered massive injuries to his face and has a long way to go in terms of recovery. And, so when his parents talked to him about seeing the kids before he headed home, he got very upset. He didn't want anyone to see him. I think about my son last year (the age this boy is) and it was the first year he actually started caring about things like fitting in and looking a certain way. So, my heart ached for his friend and what he must be going through, feeling so scared to even see the friends he played with just over a week ago on the street.

Instead, the kids put their banners and signs and balloons in his yard as a showing of love and support, and the boy came home with his parents while all the kids were at school. They said his face lit up and later he came out to read all his signs and was beaming. It turned out to be the perfect way to show their support and love, without overwhelming their friend.

Today, there was a late afternoon surprise as the boy decided he wanted to go outside and see some friends. And, so my son and some other kids walked down to see him.

Normally very lively and sporty, his demeanor was complete different. At first he hid the side of his face with the most injuries, where he'd had his eye surgery, by nestling it into his mom's side. And, I wondered if he'd stay very long outside at all. What I saw next was unforgettable.

Slowly, he began to relax. His parents had gotten he and his sister a puppy after the accident. And, instinctively, the children went to asking him about his new dog. The focus was completely off of their friend and his injuries and on this funny little scrappy puppy. After about 15 minutes, I saw the boy start to put his hand down off the bad side of his face--at first, just for a few seconds at a time. His shoulders relaxed. He moved away from his mom and sat on his own among his friends.

And, during this time, I felt a beam of pride in my own son. We'd talked with him about how his friend might look different and how he should treat him the same, but understand if he was shy or not his old self yet. The doctors have told this little boy he cannot run and play as he normally does for six long months--something that his parents say will be near impossible knowing their child. My son sat and talked and even seemed to be standing in a protective sort of stance by his friend.

And, amazingly, after about a half hour, the boy turned to my son and asked if he'd come in to play inside with him. After they'd played inside for another half hour or so, the boy came out with his hands down and his head held high smiling. His parents were elated and amazed at how fast he'd relaxed and let go of his fears.

I gave my son a big hug when he got home and when he asked why I told him how proud I was of him--that I knew that it was hard seeing a friend hurt like that. The boy's face was really swollen and while he still looked like the same person, it gave him a sort of younger look--like maybe how he looked at age 3 or 4. His eye injury and facial lacerations were significant and, even as an adult, I found myself having to control my reaction because I felt so much sadness for he and his family when I got a full glimpse of his face.

But, my son never changed his usual expression with his friend, and I marvelled at that knowing how tender-hearted he is inside.

As I hugged him, he got an emotional look in his eyes, but said nothing. We had our dinner as usual and later after I read to him before bedtime, he told me with some tears behind his eyes, "Mom, you know he did look a little scary to me." And, I hugged him and reassured him that his friend would day-by-day start looking back to his old self and that I couldn't have been more proud of how he was today with him.

At nine, my son is pretty sheltered and fearful of many things. We don't watch all the Harry Potter movies because he requests not to. He has never wanted to be anything scary for Halloween. He has a lot of bad dreams and an over-active imagination, just as I did as a kid. And, I knew it took him great strength and love to be there for his friend today.

Miracles happen every day. One week ago my son thought he might lose a wonderful neighbor friend and we felt the shock of this tragedy that hit such a wonderful family just a few doors down. Today, my son's friend found the strength to face his fears and even managed to smile with his friends. And, that smile and my son's courage and friendship is something that will stay with me for a long time to come.

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Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

Kids are wonderful...
They just "get it".

7:34 AM, October 05, 2008  
Anonymous Wickedly Scarlett said...

That is such a sad, but beautiful story--it truly brought tears to my eyes. I hope that your son's friend heals quickly and he is so lucky to have such a wonderful friend in your son.

12:37 PM, October 05, 2008  
Blogger kristi said...

My little brother was riding home from work with his crew (he worked on an oil rig) and the driver fell asleep. My brother's entire face was broken. He woke up looking entirely different...he was so angry! He has had a tough road and is now in prison.

I am glad your son helped his friend feel better. Youth is a big help, I guess.

We were grateful my brother didn't die but it was so painful to see him hate his own face.

2:14 PM, October 05, 2008  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

You know you have a great kid when he looks passed his own feelings and thinks of someone else like that.

12:37 AM, October 06, 2008  
Anonymous Alison C said...

You have a great kid! You have obviously done a fantastic job raising him.

12:24 PM, October 06, 2008  
Blogger Crazy MomCat said...

Thanks, guys! Yeah, I was really proud of my son. And, Kristi--that is so sad about your brother. I hope that our little friend doesn't go through that, but I know it will be really hard for him if there's a lot of bad scarring. Not sure yet if there will be. Thanks for your comments!

1:04 PM, October 06, 2008  

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