My Swimming Heart

To my Evan, who turned 9 years old today.

Last week I called you from San Francisco. You weren’t happy I was gone, but normally you sound full of joy when I talk to you on the phone. This time was different.

“You sound so sad, baby. What’s the matter?”

“Today was a really bad day.”

“What made it so bad?”

“I drowned.”

Oh my. That does make for a bad day.

You went on to tell me that while attempting your swim test, the same swim test that you have successfully completed twice already, you just got too tired.

“I couldn’t go any further. The life guard had to jump in and save me.”

Through your words I was suddenly transported to that pool. I was standing in the distance, watching you desperately claw at air and water, only to be met with the physical realities of both mediums. I felt like the one fighting for breath. I felt like the one frantic to make it stop. Something that wasn’t even happening at this moment.

I didn’t have to be there to feel it. I’ve watched you do this type of drowning many times during the last year. Not necessarily in the water, but in life. I’ve watched you fight-exhausted and ready to give up- your way through school, and friends, and home. I’ve watched you desperate to find a way to just make it to the other side. I’ve stood in that distance countless times, wanting nothing more than to jump in and save you.

Nobody tells you that your heart will break a thousand times through being a parent, and it will hurt worse than it could ever hurt for itself.

I am the one who wants so desperately to save you and I never really can.

Also, nobody tells you that your heart will soar a thousand times through being a parent, and it will soar so much higher than it ever could for itself.

“Hey Ev. What did you do while you were in the water until the lifeguard got to you?”

“I kicked. As hard as I could. I just kicked and kicked until she reached me.”

If there is one thing I know about you-my Evan-and I know many, it is that you are stronger than I could ever hope to be. You are fearless in adventure, determined in any task, and you fight to the bitter end for what you believe in.

“Well then, I don’t think you drowned my love. I think you swam.”

Kicking in the water until someone gets there isn’t drowning. Struggling with things isn’t failing. You found a way to get to the other side.

I know you will always find a way to get to the other side.

And I’ll be there. Always and forever, standing at a distance but cheering and believing louder and stronger than anyone.

Watching you swim through the next year of life. Forever grateful that you take my heart along for the ride.

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