He’s looking out of the window. Outside it’s raining – it’s been raining all day, a grey, dreary, winter day, one of those days when you just want to stay at home, doing nothing and feeling happy that you don’t have to go out.
Only today the only thing he wanted was to be playing in the rain, wallowing in the mud, tackling his adversaries, fighting to get the ball through and score.
Instead, he’s watching the match from the window of our living room, as we live but a few hundred metres from the rugby field.
This was – is – such an important match for his team. In the last weeks – months – they have lost every match. Today was their last chance to qualify in the championship and their coach had warned them he would need every player on the field. He had committed himself to play, of course, after all he’s been playing rugby since he was 7 – it will be 10 years this year. Almost his whole life!
And then, last Thursday, he was not feeling well. He was always coughing and he felt as if he had a strange itching in his throat. He told me he wasn’t all right, but as he didn’t have a fever I was not really worried. I only suggested he stay at home and miss his rugby training. He clearly wasn’t well, looking tired. But he insisted ” Mom, I absolutely have to go, we’ll all have to go to the game on Saturday, it’s our last chance, and we have to go training…”. I didn’t insist and he did go, but he was feeling too tired and breathless by the time he came home. And then when he was having a shower, he spit and saw there was some blood in it – and he was scared.
He told me and of course I was worried. I gave him paracetamol and sent him to bed. But although he was tired, he could not sleep. Perhaps, he thought, I’m stressed because of my Maths test tomorrow. And he tried hard to sleep but he just couldn’t. With the sixth sense only mothers have, I silently opened his door and found him awake – I brought him a yoghurt, as he had eaten very little at dinner, and he ate it. Finally, he managed to fall asleep.
It was hard for him to get up the following morning. He still had a last private Maths lesson before going to school for the test. He would have classes all afternoon but he told me he wasn’t sure he would feel well enough to stay. When he coughed and the spit was the same as the day before I said I would take him to the doctor after the test. And then I left for work.
He dragged himself to school. It was raining. As he sat down and saw the test he relaxed – and he wrote and wrote and wrote. As he finished he was confident he would at least get an average result.
Meanwhile I called our family doctor who advised to go to the hospital and have an x ray to his lungs. So I went to get him at home – after he had eaten lunch – and we went to a small private hospital where urgencies do not take too long. He was seen by a doctor, who advised some tests to his throat and the x ray. Finally, when the results came, we were called in and the doctor said he had bronchopneumonia, a sort of infection of the lungs. When I told the doctor he smokes, he was somewhat shocked and said he was too young for that – as I haven’t told him that a million times! When he asked the doctor if he could play this very important match on the following day, the doctor looked at him as if he were crazy and told him he strongly, very strongly, advised against it, as his situation could develop into something far more serious and he might have serious difficulties in breathing due to the effort. He prescribed antibiotic, a cough syrup and a spray used for asthma and such other conditions (that he fortunately has never had!).
Before leaving hospital he insisted we still go and visit one of his best friends who had been operated on the previous day to a torn ligament of the knee. As the hospital where his friend was staying has an inside parking and he would not be in the open air I agreed. Then we came home and another “war” started, as he kept saying he would go and watch the match on the following day and I said no way, he would have to stay indoors.
On the following day he felt more rested but still somewhat short of breath. Still, he was insistent that he should go out to watch the match. He drove me half-crazy! Finally he agreed to stay home, but only after I texted our doctor saying he wanted to go out and asked his advice that of course was a blunt “NO!”
Having finally accepted his fate, he decided to watch the match from the window. As he sat there, trying to “guess” who had scored – and he managed it – I felt a huge wave of tenderness towards this stubborn, but at the same time very sweet younger boy of mine. I understand – and appreciate – his level of commitment and loyalty to his club and his team, I understand his disappointment at not being able to play such a decisive match, and I understand all of this very well. But first of all I have to take care of him and make sure he gets better. Even if he is angry with me!
And then, as he saw his team was winning, he was enthusiastic! He forgot he was watching the match from the window and it was as if he were down there with his friends, running, scoring, shouting…he had been so stressed with the match that now it was going well he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He saw his team score one, two, and three…but still he wanted to be sure, he was crying for some binoculars, but there were none…
When the match was over he was happy. “I can’t believe, it. Mom, we have won!”, and I stroked his hair and said “Your sacrifice was worth it!” – and only then did he leave the window.
Outside, it was pitching dark. The lights of the rugby field were not out. His friends started calling to give him the news and he was happy talking to them and exchanging views about the match.
To have healthy children is a true blessing. Today was a tough day for my boy but soon he will recover and return to the rugby field. He will go to his training every evening and come back tired and hungry. He will have many more tough and victorious games, and then he’ll go and celebrate another victory with his friends, as they love to.
And next time he plays, he will remember the day when he was a boy at the window, and he will be happy to be in back in the field again.