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Let me start off by saying this: I have never played a sport in my whole entire life. I blame my heart condition because quite truly I always wanted to participate in sports. From afar I could only begin to imagine what participating in a sport could have taught me. I secretly envied the other student’s who would zip off to practice or another game. I loved watching the comraderie between the players, the intensity on their faces during a game.

When Brooks and I first met he mentioned in passing that he played basketball. I didn’t realize then how much the sport meant to him or how much it had helped shape who he was. I wasn’t privy to the life long lessons learned from the pursuit of being great at something, such as a team sport. But as we dated, as I began to know him, his dreams and aspirations, his shortcomings and successes, his passions I began to get a clear picture of what participating in a sport could teach one about oneself, life.

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Deployments have always defined us as a married couple. Little B was born shortly after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Between too short phone calls and letters delivered intermittently we began to share our dreams and hopes for our baby. Brooks was able, thankfully, to make it home for the birth of his only son. That meant the world to us, then as it does now. And as our little one grew and matured our dreams for him did as well. It no longer mattered to us what he chose to do with his life as long as he was taught the lessons in life that mattered. From the moment we laid eyes on our little one it no longer mattered what profession he chose for himself, what mattered was the man he would one day be.

Driving to Little B’s last game with the Raptors this past weekend BB asked us what we hoped he’d one day be. We both assured him that whatever he chose for himself we only wished that he loved it, was passionate about it, and that it would allow him to provide comfortably for himself and his family. He pressed us to tell him what profession we’d envision him taking up and was taken aback when we told him we’d not ever considered it in those terms.

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Raising him hasn’t always been easy. The Boy can be stubborn, if we let him. Mothering him alone at times has been challenging. I am the best parent for him when Brooks is by my side, and vice-versa.

And during those times that Brooks was gone I was grateful for sport, for the lessons they taught My Boy when his Dad was so far away and would have imparted the same wisdom. I am grateful for the life lessons learned during the pursuit of something loved and thoroughly enjoyed.

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This year B played basketball while his Daddy has helped coach him. Seeing those two on the court, his father’s bent head leaning towards him as he describes in detail what to do next, or how to improve something, or quite simply words of encouragement, has taken my breath away more than once. I’m grateful for this thing they both love so much.

The Raptors had an okay season. Quite honestly it was the most winning season B has been a part of. He’s learned to win graciously over the years, loving the game more than the wins by being on team after team that has always struggled to get that win. There’s a lesson to be had there and he’s learned it well.

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This year he pushed himself to improve his game, setting up cones in the garage to run drills, begging us to take him to the court to practice, and dribbling in the house back and forth tirelessly (yes, we allow that).

So although the Raptors didn’t win every single game it was a great season. Little Brooks rarely lost his smile or exuberance for life, skipping from time to time, laughing with teammates on and off the court, pumping his fist in the air triumphantly when a shot would swoosh through the net. 

And I found myself cheering alone on the bench again. Except this time, I was cheering for our boy, his dad by his side.

 

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