He came home for spring break excited for the season ahead with no idea what was about to happen. At that point his biggest concern was coming back from injury. But he almost didn’t get the chance to.
While on spring break he first got the call that break would be extended for an extra week or two. Then extended indefinitely. Now there was tons of uncertainty. Will there be a season?
Back and forth. “Does he play? He justs wants to play. What if he gets sick? What about the long-term effects? What about the extra year? Master’s Degree?” So much to think about.
In the meantime…
Rehab continues. Everything is shutdown. All he wants to do is get on the field and now it’s not even the injury that’s holding you back. Learning how to workout and still stay tight with your team while remaining 6 feet apart. The one good thing that came out of this was I got to see him for a solid 2 months. But that was another logistic conundrum. How to schedule rehab locally, get it paid for, workout within doctor’s parameters, attend team zooms, oh and don’t forget to actually work on school work.
Finally, after much debate the B1G decided to go ahead with a season. The season opener scheduled for the weekend of my birthday and there was no other place I’d rather be than watching him play. So, I jump on a plane to Chicago to be there even though they were only allowed 2 tickets each for parents.
The storied 12-hour trip goes like this: Get into Chicago at 5:30pm. Game is in Evanston at 7:30pm. Then turnaround and fly out at 6am the following day.
I almost didn’t make it for kickoff because I forgot to consider the time difference from Eastern to Central time. So now, I’m running late, waiting for my uber when I get a FaceTime. I know he was partially calling because I wasn’t there yet. Which would’ve been easy for him to see from the field with only a few dozen fans in the stadium and only a fraction of them being Maryland fans.
The call went something like this:
J: Where you at?
Me: I’m on my way (still at the hotel, on hold with the airline because I had no returning flight, trying to charge everything, inhaling an Italian Beef, while waiting for my uber.)
J: I just wanted to FaceTime you and let you know I made it! I made it back on the field.
Me: Yeah you did! Enjoy every second. You worked hard for this.
(We were both fighting back the tears)
It was cold! 38 degrees at Kickoff. I still haven’t gotten feeling back in one of my toes.
I already scoped out the exit to the visitor’s locker room to catch him before he left the field. I held his hand for a brief second, told him he had a good game and then he asked me to wait around back by the bus. I waited, and was freezing. But when he came out they wouldn’t let us get close. I couldn’t hug him due to Covid protocols but I definitely didn’t want to be the reason the whole season got shut down so I obliged with an air hug and some small talk and then he was gone again.
The game wasn’t great and we looked rusty but he was back!
Because he enrolled in January of his senior year and went year-round because of football, he was done in 3 years. Graduation was virtual so once again I headed up for another 24-hour turnaround trip. Got up there in the evening the night before graduation. He had a photographer scheduled for the next morning, graduation was online at 1pm and my flight home was 6pm that same day. So, his dad came down, I flew up and we watched him walk across his apartment living room in his cap and gown while his name scrolled across the screen on his laptop, he moved his tassel from right to left, we celebrated him and made it as special as we could considering the circumstances.
We survived and he got to grow through the adversity. In the dark times when he was looking for support or advice I would remind him the adversity he was experiencing was preparing him for the next level.