So, my son closed the door on yet another chapter of his high school career yesterday. Several months ago I made the rather obvious observation that this would be a year of lasts: the last first day of school, the last football game, and then yesterday, the last basketball game. It's been quite a season for this team, earning "Elite Eight status" and a berth in the Northeast Regional Finals game of our state playoffs. I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of success from this team, not back last November, most of the opinion they hadn't the talent of last year's team. Plus a 3-5 (wins-losses) start didn't exactly inspire confidence.
This group of seniors knows what it is to defy expectations. Their seventh grade year they finished with only 7 wins, a mere 4 their eighth grade year. About halfway through their freshman season they started winning and haven't looked back. My son calculates his high school record as 87-23, pretty impressive for four seasons.
A couple of weeks ago one of the moms posted some pictures of the boys when they played together in elementary school. We chuckled at their youth and awkwardness; we were incredulous at how fast the years passed and how quickly our boys grew up. How far they'd come!
And yesterday it ended. It is the bane of the playoff distinction: a heartbreaking loss ending the season for all but the state champion. After the game we gathered on the gym floor and outside the team locker room: parents, friends, grandparents, girlfriends. We patted the team on the back, we shook the coach's hand, we hugged our boys, we blinked back tears, we were so proud. My son had been emotional, I could tell--and who could blame him? So many years, so many games, so many practices, so many joys in victories and, yes, even a few agonies in defeats, now all memories.
I am so proud of him, of the whole team. It has been great fun watching them play! Though perhaps in the early years I was a more nonchalant fan, caring only about the game because, well, you know, that was my boy playing, I'm now a full fledged enthusiast, as those of you who follow me on twitter well know since I glutted my twitter feed yesterday with score updates and expressions of team pride. Yep, I'm one of those moms / basketball fans and proud of it!
I've also enjoyed being a part of a group of moms showing their support for their boys with meals and tee shirts and posters and goodie bags and all sorts of other creative endeavors. Through the course of football and basketball seasons I've decorated buckets and made posters and even employed the use of a paint pen. While my sentimentality is only slightly greater than my creativity (which is nil), it's been fun to not only see what else the more creative moms come up with but also to stretch my own creative muscles. On nearly every thing I made for my son I wrote "Col. 3:17," a reminder to him to do all for the glory of the Lord, whether sitting on the bench or shooting free throws or running drills at practice. Success on the hardwood is great and wonderful and exciting and perhaps to some degree important but it does not compare to eternity. My son knows this which makes me all the more proud of him.
Grace, grace, God's grace.
This morning he and I sit at the table with our respective cups of coffee and reflect on the game and how close it really was, a few missed shots and turnovers aside it might have been us advancing to the Final Four. But it is what it is, we conclude: a great run, so much to take pride in. Something he will miss, absolutely. Something he loved being a part of, very much. But no regrets, he tweeted last night.
He gets up from the table, grabs his soccer bag and heads to school, reminding me as he goes out the door that he'll be home after soccer practice this afternoon.
Time to move on.