Having a child hit by a car is one of the most terrorizing and heart-breaking events that could ever happen to a parent. I still see Derek’s eyes looking at me, begging me to help him the instant before the van hit him. Those eyes will haunt me the rest of my life. I had come to grips with the fact that my son was always going to have a slightly deformed foot. I knew that there was the likelihood of future surgeries or procedures, but I was still caught off guard yesterday. When I learned that there are some serious problems still left to deal with, my heart broke. For a short time, I may have even given up on the idea of Derek having a normal life. But after further reflection, I realize that I was just feeling sorry for myself, and not really thinking about Derek.
Now don’t get me wrong. The injuries he has are just as serious as I have stated, and the problems that are in front of him are real. Everything I said yesterday still stands, but my attitude is better. Last night, I started thinking about Derek, and who he is. I watched him play with his brothers and Ashley and even the dog. He climbs up on everything! He runs, jumps, and plays all day long. He is the youngest of the three boys, has one shoe on, and an injured foot, and he still keeps up with his brothers in just about every way. My mother reminded me of a story of when we were in Colorado. My mother and I were at the house, and Jason and my Dad took the three boys on a hike to find a cave. When they got the the area where they started the hike, Jason noticed that Derek only had on one shoe. At that time, we were trying to get him to wear both shoes, but he hated wearing one on his hurt foot. Jason just let him go, and figured he would carry Derek if it got too difficult for him.
As they went along the hike, the terrain was not cleared out for hikers. It was just land taken over by nature. They had to cross through trees, sage brush, rocks, cactus, and other crazy things. They even had to cross a creek by walking along a fallen log. Not only did Derek cover the entire trail on his own, without any help from anyone, but he was the first one to the cave. He was the one at the top, trying to hurry along the others! Here he is, the youngest, wearing only one shoe with a foot injury, and he was the one that made it to the top first. Everyone else was taking their time, watching where they were going, but Derek charged ahead. Nothing holds that kid back. This story amazed me at the time, but it brings me great hope now.
You see, Derek is not one to give up or feel sorry for himself. He is not one to over analyze and over-think his situation. He is a smart, energetic kid that has a unique ability to adapt and adjust to his situation. Rather than let his injuries slow him down or stop him, Derek is going to find a way around the problem. It may be a lot harder for him to accomplish the same things as other kids, and he may have to work harder, and dig deeper to get to the finish line, but Derek will not only get there, he will get there first! Because he has such an amazing attitude, never complaining or whining about his pain or circumstance, I am going to continue to enroll him into sports, put him into the same activities that I planned on putting him into, and see how he does. I am going to give him the same opportunities that I planned on giving him before the accident. Why should I limit him? Why not let him figure out how to solve the problem? Why not give him a chance to do everything everyone else can do? He may eventually find his limitations, but I want him to determine those limits, not me or anyone else. I will always be there to help him through, guide him along, and soothe his pain, but I am also going to support him in everything he attempts to do.
All this being said, I think it will be wise to take another piece of advice from my mother. Derek was a great shot in Colorado. I think it could be wise to continue to pursue shooting as a sport since problems with his foot will have very little if any effect on his ability to shoot. He loved shooting, and felt great competing against his brothers, whom he almost beat at four years old! My belief is that Derek truly can do what he wants to do, and can go as far as he chooses to go. Who am I to stop him just because he got his foot hurt? Coming to this realization has given me peace again. While I wish he didn’t have to overcome so much and go through all that he must go through, I am proud of the boy he is, and I think he will handle this problem better than any of us can imagine.
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