As my mom, my friend Anna, and I are rushing out the door in hope of making the kickoff, the phone rings. I answer it quickly. “Hello,” I exclaim into the phone, wishing I could just drop it and run out the door. “Hi Mary! It’s Aunt Jane, how are you?”
I respond with the phrase that has seemed so repetitive and routine since I learned my manners. “I’m good, how are you,” I state, trying to brainstorm polite ways to end the conversation. “I’m sorry Aunt Jane; I was just on my way out the door.”
It seems that she understands. “Okay. That’s fine I’ll call back later. Bye.”
Thirty minutes later, Anna and I are kicking around a soccer ball aside the field of my brother Will’s football game. Out of curiosity, I take a glimpse around at the parents cheering their children on. A confusion starts to build up. “Where are my parents?” I take a quick glance into the parking lot and can’t seem to locate them anywhere. When I look out onto field, I find that someone’s hurt, laying flat on the ground. My eyes instantly zoom in on the scene. I discover that it’s Will on the ground. My parents are standing over him on the field. Will’s got to be hurt.
“Orange 18, orange 18 set hike,” I’d scream at the line of scrimmage as a young kid reenacting what I would watch the professionals do on T.V. With the ball in hand I recall waiting for him to make his cut inside, waiting for the exact moment to release the ball of my hand. “Now,” I thought to myself, letting the ball free. I realized that once again my throw was out of my brother’s reach.
“Nice try May,” he would let out with absolutely no aggravation or impatience in the tone of his voice. Time after time failing because of my fault, but never getting frustrated. He would only provide me with advice and encouragement in hope of helping me to do better the following try. When we finally do connect on the next pass, Will reacts as if it was the winning touchdown that Eli Manning threw to Plaxico Burress in the super bowl. At the same time, adding his own creative touch with his famous touchdown dance for the invisible crowd to see.
I rush onto the field desperate to know exactly what’s wrong with my brother. I can feel an Olympic runner increasing speed inside of me as I approach Will. As I near the midline, I witness Will lying as still as a statue.
I take a snap shot of my parents straight through their bold faces into their terrified emotions within their bodies. When I finally close in on the scene, one simple phrase is taken in when I hear the paramedic say, “Will, whatever you do don’t move a muscle.”
Everything seems to be happening so fast. I look out into the distance and see two paramedics rolling a stretcher towards Will. I witness Will’s shut eyes, focusing on what the paramedic is instructing him to do. My heart is like a car on a racetrack as I watch Will ever so carefully being laid on the stretcher. Tears flow down my face as I watch my mom closely beside my brother on the way to the ambulance truck.
The tears quickly multiply as Anna and I jump into my dad’s car to head for home. The second I hop in the car, all of the worst possibilities circle my mind. My tension morphed to anger when I come to realize my lack of control. It seems scientifically impossible for the thought to drift out of my brain.
When Will walks in the door, I sense the weight falling off of my shoulders. The vibe within my body transforms to a whole new tone. Most importantly, I now have the assurance that Will’s alright.
By the next morning all of this is taken in. When I answer the phone just minutes later, I am faced with the same question that seemed so repetitive simply a day ago. As the same words swim out of mouth, they appear to be interpreted identically on the opposite end of the line. But something is definitely different. It’s not the words that have changed, it’s me.