By Angeline M Duran Santiago
Tears streamed down my face as I looked out into the field and saw them shivering as the strong winds whipped around them. My heart ached and broke as I saw the condition of each player and yet, there was a shout of encouragement, pushing one another, in the midst of the storm. Countless times I went up to my son and yelled out at him, "I want to take you home!" He'd look at me with his serious look, shivering, and said, "Mom, I'm staying til the end." Turning his face back away he called on his teammates to create a huddle, not around himself, but around one of the players shivering, as he says, more than him. He danced, he jumped and he cried out, but he refused to go. "Mom, we stay together until it's over."
His name to go in was not called in the first part of the game. "Why are we even here, Lord?" I questioned my own sanity at giving in to being here. I'd given him Tylenol for a fever that was starting just before the game. Instead of being home like every other normal family, here we were, out in the open field, trying to stand still as the rains kept hitting upon us mercilessly. "Lord, have I failed you tonight? Have I failed as the mom you created me to be? Forgive me." I cried out alone in that field as I saw it open up it's mouth to beg for more rain.
I looked out into the sky and the winds seemed to create swirls that danced around the lights for a moment, but then they returned to angry darts of water, as if angry and saying, "How dare you be out here in my parade? Don't you know I am the storm, the hurricane, the mighty wind?" And so, as the winds got stronger, I allowed my heart to cry out to the Lord. After all, I was alone and no one could see me. So, I stood near the boys and decided to join them. Yes, I too, would stand with my brothers.
The game ended and my soul felt nothing but sadness. The few parents present were disappointed that we lost. I didn't care that we lost. I worried of the oncoming physical trauma that would begin now that we could go home. My son took about a half hour in the car just to be able to remove his wet clothes off of his body. "I can't feel my hands or my feet." he cried. Why had I allowed this? It was then I spoke. "I'm not doing this ever again. I don't care if you hate me but I will not allow you to ever play under this kind of weather ever again." And then, through the pain, through the feeling of burning skin as he described it and through rattling teeth he, my son, responded.
"But they are my brothers. I have to be there for them. I have to, mom."
"How can you say that? You are brothers out in the field but afterwards, you are back to your real life and they go to theirs."
"No, mom. We all say the same thing. We have to stay together and help one another no matter what. You can't tell me not to be there for them because you didn't see what I had to do." (He thinks I didn't see, so I let him tell me.) "Mom, I saw them shivering and I told the guys, let's make a huddle around him so we can keep him warm. Then I said, let's move like this to keep warm. And then, when he fell I couldn't leave him on the floor. I had to help him, Mom. I wish I could have done more."
The boy on the floor is one of my son's best friend. Walking to the parking lot he fell on the floor experiencing strong cramps. Jacob dropped his own bag, barely able to walk, reached out his hand to his friend on the floor and turned his body around to help his friend place himself on him and get up slowly. Then, he grabbed him and put him on his side, helping him walk, almost carrying him. A few moments later one of the coaches saw them and he came, released my son's grip, and took the player into his arms and carried him off quickly towards the bus.
I don't think anyone realized just how my son was feeling and still he placed his friend first. Thank you for my son's heart, Lord. My heart reached out to him. God sees, Jacob. God sees.
The one who was hurt, who was hurting and feeling sick, not once took the time to look at his situation, his hurt or his needs. He only and continuously only saw the needs of his brothers. In the car all he said was, "If I am feeling like this, I wonder how this one or that one is." And we prayed, he prayed for them in his own way.
What do I take to heart from this? Well, I am not sure what you have inferred. Maybe that I stink as a mom for letting him play in the storm. But I'll tell you what I got from this. A lesson.
How many of us will hide from the storm? Many parents refused to be out in the field with their sons because the storm was upon them, fiercely. But, they had jackets on!!! Some people just take care of their own, but some people see the needs in others. One of the moms had an extra raincoat and got it for me and I was able to put it over the raincoat I had. I can tell you that I had four layers on and the water went through everything. I chose to be out in the field with my warrior son. I had to .
I learned through my son's speech that family has to stay together through the storms. Yes. The storm comes to flood the area so that we have to evacuate. The storm comes to cut through with sharp razors of raindrops hitting at your face, but while your brother is out in the field fighting to defend their side, you have to remain vigilant and ready for when your name is called to go in and continue the fight to claim your side. The storm leaves you in the dark, but there is always a light that shines through to keep you walking through. There's enough light to see what is going on and you can focus on the battle, your strategy plan and know your next move.
I learned from my son that family is not just during the game, but yes, indeed, even off the field as he says. Not, that I didn't see it that way before, it's just last night, I could understand him wanting to return with his team on the bus just because he wanted to be with them as they encouraged one another going home. I learned that his faith in God is stronger than I imagined. I learned that he is more fearless than I thought and he will draw strength from an unknown reserve and do for others before doing for himself.
And, I believe, this is what the Lord wants to see in us, his children, his family. Will I leave it all, the comfort of my warm bed and home and go out, tired and sick into the midst of the storm where there is nothing stopping the winds or the rain, just to make sure that my brother is ok?
Will I stay in the storm as it increases so that I can protect and stand with my brother as he endures, battles, fights, and makes it through- or will I run for cover and watch him fight and struggle from the sidelines or my shelter?
Will I use my strength to cheer him on and encourage him? Will I pray and trust God as we wait it out, drenched in the rain, shivering, hurting- will I stay as the storm keeps coming down- on my brother?
Lord, help me to be there for my brother and my sister. Help me to stand with them even when it's hard and uncomfortable. Help me to be strong and the hands around my family and friends when they need me the most. Guide me and help me to be like my son, Jacob, to see the needs and to have heart that will not move until my brother is safe, my brother is ok, and my brother has been taken care of.
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