Have I told you, I love you...
Me & my boys
Before you know it-they're gone...
When my sons were actually babies and not the teenagers they are today, their father and I couldn’t kiss them or tell them we loved them enough…we still tell them constantly, and thankfully, they still kiss us hello and goodbye and goodnight (even in front of people) and tell us they love us. In fact, we have a rule; we never reply I love you too, because I have this weird thing that too implies you are saying it just because I said it. Hey, I told you I/it was weird, but it works for us. Just know that if you tell me you love me, or any of us, our response is merely, “I love you.”
Their father and I are no longer together, under one roof, but we are still a team when it comes to raising our children. Especially when it comes to what is going on with our sons lives, personally. As much as teenagers share about their personal lives, anyway, which of course is probably not as much as many parents would like to know, wish they knew, or think they know. Nevertheless, divorced, separated, still together, happily or not, as a team, we are as vigilant and as attentive as possible when it comes to reminding our kids we love them and we are still here if they need us, no matter how ‘big’ they may be, or are.
As customary, my son and I were watching Sports center the other night, when they reported the death of 16 year old Fennville basketball player and high school student Wes Leonard. Wes made the game winning shot that brought Fennville’s season to a close with a 20-0 record. While amidst the celebration however, Wes Leonard collapsed to the ground and died, due to an enlarged heart. My son is 15 and plays basketball, so this story was particularly difficult for me, because I could not imagine the grief or the pain of losing a child…my heart broke for the parents, friends, family, and the students, team, and staff, of Fennville high school.
Four days after the tragic loss of Wes Leonard, his parents and his 8th grade brother sat in the crowd and watched as the Fennville high school basketball team symbolically went out on the court with four players, and played in honor and in memory of their fallen, fellow, son/brother, teammate and friend. They trailed for most of the game, but in the fourth quarter, they ‘turned it on’ with a 10-0 run, and went on to win 65-54, and are now just seven games away from the state title. I was crying inconsolably and it just happened to be that my 15 year old was on an overnight visit with his dad. I texted him at 1:00 a.m. with the good news and told him, because unlike me, his dad loathes sports, and I knew they had not watched.
“Fennville won,” I texted. “Cool huh? I love you.” He texted back, “lol So cool. I love you.” He laughed, not just because I woke him up to tell him about it, but because I had just texted him earlier to tell him how much I love him. My eldest son, almost 19, had just come back from staying a month with his cousin, and while I always hug and kiss him and tell him I love him all the time, he noticed I was even more weepy and affectionate, than usual.
I walked past him as he sat at his computer working on his music/mixes and leaned in and hugged him and kissed him, yet again, and whispered, “I love you.”
He laughed and said, “You’ve been doing that a lot more lately mom, is everything okay?”
I laughed, through tears, “Yeah, can’t a mother just tell her son she loves him?”
He said, “Yeah, of course, you always do. Just seems like you’re doing it a lot more.”
He was being nice, but I knew I was probably driving both of my boy’s crazy with all the kissing, hugging, and telling them I love them.
I never heard or met Wes Leonard or his family and friends, but his life and tragic death impacted, and affected me in a way that is so profound. I looked around at my home, the boy’s clothes, messes scattered throughout, heard their music blasting from their room, watched as them, and all their friends streamed in and out of the house and played a pickup game in the driveway for more than two hours, and smiled through tears.
They grow up so fast, and life is so short and so precious, we bicker and fight about the chores not being done and how I feel like a maid sometimes, as they roll their eyes and or talk back, if they talk at all. Messy, moody, and downright mean at times, but when all is said and done, I wouldn’t trade a single moment with them. In fact, I think I will relish every moment with them a little more, hold them a little longer, kiss them more often, and tell them as often and as much as I can, “I love you.” So thank you Wes, and Wes’ family, friends, and teammates, for reminding me just how blessed I am for every moment I have, good or bad, with my teenage boys. My heartfelt prayers, best wishes, and love, go out to you all. Truly, I thank you.