Our son Payton started playing lacrosse when he was 8 years old. He continued the next season. And the next, and the next, until I woke up one morning and our tiny guy with the squeaky elf voice was gone and in his place, a 5 foot-10-inch, 145 pounds, deep-voiced teenager was on our front lawn. The only way I could be sure it was still Payton was that I recognized the lacrosse stick in his hands as he threw against the bounce-back.
One of his dreams, to play lacrosse on the East Coast, was realized this past week. The dream was made sweeter upon receiving an invitation that secured a coveted spot on a Brady’s Bunch team.
Named for Brady, a five-year-old who was diagnosed with Leukemia at six months, the team is committed to playing with a deeper purpose and raise awareness. The roster included kids from California, Utah, Arizona, and Canada.
Social media is filled with dangers for kids and normally I feel like it is a big waste of time. But through Payton’s tweets on Twitter, I was able to follow the evolution of his weekend – from trivial observations and comments about the weather, to deep reflections, pain and triumph.
The tournament took an unexpected turn when one of the player’s brother, Luke, was rushed to the hospital after vomiting nonstop since his arrival in Boston. He was quickly given the tragic diagnosis of stomach cancer the day before the tournament ended.
Payton’s learned of Luke’s diagnosis 20 minutes before the start of the championship game.
Brady’s Bunch knew they had to be strong and play their best – for Brady, fellow lacrosse player Luke, and his grief-stricken teammate and brother, Bubba.
Bubba took to the field with his team, a championship hanging in the balance. A life forever changed. The championship suddenly carried a deeper purpose, in short, a way to express love.
Short is what defines Twitter. One becomes skilled in getting to the point. Tweets must be succinct; there’s a 140 character limit to what you can say. Short is what defines life. Everything we do is important.
Far from home, Payton’s tweets became my link to his heart and mind for five days:
Driving to Lax at 4:30 am.
Touchdown in Massachusetts!
Airport is chock full of lacrosse players.
I love CVS.
It is currently a nice 85 degrees and sunny at 9pm in Massachusetts. Nice.
It is TOO DAMN HOT.
Sharing a bed with Nick tonight.
Bunch is all in. If your bunch you’re all in.
I have never been more tired in my life.
Ain’t nothing like outscoring your opponents 32-3 through 3 games.
I think it’s working. We’re definitely gonna win today.
Then we’re gonna win again.
And then we’ll have won a championship.
And Brady’s Bunch is in the championship game.
Most rewarding and heartbreaking experience of my life.
(Retweet from Zac Pungitore) – Easily most emotional game I’ve ever played.
“Seeing someone not being able to smile is the hardest thing to watch.”
If there is one lesson that came to life today it’s that nothing is guaranteed & we may never see tomorrow. Value.
So lucky to have a family like the Bunch.
The lacrosse was amazing this weekend, but that doesn’t matter. Learned so much about life.
“Don’t take anything for granted and appreciate the ones you love, they could be gone in an instant.”
Jill Fales is the mother of four and author of “My Laundry Museum & Other Messy Gifts of Motherhood.” Visit her at JillFales.com.