Dodging mud puddles, fellow hikers, and newly green branches, Xander and I marveled that we’d skied (and sledded) in the same canyon just days before. Xander convinced me to come back next week on mountain bikes, and even though I really can’t keep up with Xander on a bike– I agreed. How could I turn down any opportunity to spend time with my adventure loving, mountain seeking, outdoor boy?
We all love the canyons at our house, but it’s Xander who skied with me every week all winter long. The mountains offered us peace and freedom in this fretful, frightful year.
At home, overtired and underfed, talking on the phone to a prospective employer, Xander cooked a quesadilla on the stove. Not just any quesadilla– but one with Erik’s leftover steak, a golden crisp on one side and just the right amount of cheese. But the other side was blackened, neglected at wrong moment.
Usually I let Xander make his own lunch and eat the consequences, but I snatched the quesadilla out of his hands, peeled off the charred tortilla and remade it– preserving the steak (of course) adding a little more cheese. “You’re worth more than a burnt tortilla.” I told him.
Maybe that seems like an odd story to tell. But later that afternoon, Xander tripped during Ultimate Frisbee, broke his bone and dislocated his ankle. I wasn’t there to take him to the hospital, but I was glad we’d hiked; I was glad I made him a decent lunch.
Two of my boys are getting married this summer. Our long days and easy plans are coming to an end. And I’m happy for them, but it’s a change. A big change.
So Xander’s sleeping in the family room on an inflatable mattress; navigating around the kitchen on crutches and a wheelchair. He’s amazingly self-sufficient– attending his classes online, making most of his own meals (he just can’t get into the pantry), his tutoring students now come to him. We’re fetching books and tools from his room and getting cereal out of the pantry. Mary waters his fragile seedlings. I’ve learned how to start his 3D printer (he’s on version 17 of his revolutionary phone holder). He lives for visits from Madi and Fritzie.
And today, I’m sitting in the surgery waiting room at TOSH while they put two plates and twelve screws into his ankle. The last 11 days were just a prelude to recovery, today is a literal reset (kind of funny when those idioms bump up against real life).
I’m terribly sorry for Xander. He’s in so much pain (I’m worried about his finals this weekend), his broken leg has hurt his job prospects for the summer and we’re rearranging some wedding plans (he’ll be out of the cast and into a boot).
Still, it’s just a pleasure to have him around. He’s cheerful and grateful and always, always home. We’re having more conversations, watching more Modern Family, eating more chocolate chip cookies. I’m just happy to make him a few more quesadillas– filled with steak, extra cheese, golden brown on both sides– before he walks out the door.
We’re home from surgery– it was rough. They can’t get his pain under control, even with nerve blocks and oxycodone and piles of ice packs. And while I’m nursing Xander, I’m also editing and framing photos of my friend’s son. Last week, he didn’t wake up. Just twenty-four years old.
It’s the kind of task that throws everything else in perspective. It’s a privilege to care for our children. A sacred privilege.