Holiday Retreat

The knot in my back throbbed. Even as I pressed it against the jet of water, the muscle was tight and unrelenting. I submerged my head to align the aching spot with the pulsing whirlpool blast. Underneath, I filtered out the world while the rhythm of the water beat against my eardrums. When my breath ran out, I floated toward the surface, opened my eyes and saw my son staring back at me, wearing swimmer’s goggles, his hair mussed and wet-plastered to his head. He mouthed something to me, but I couldn’t hear him.


The lips flapped again and his toothy grin widened. The wake of the water jet rippled against the middle of my back, right at the spot where the knot spasmed. I was in no hurry to move again. I told Lucas I couldn’t hear him because of the water. Then he lifted his hand and poked his finger to his nose, laughing. I stretched my head from the surface just in time to hear him say, “you have a booger.”

Our Labor Day was decidedly absent of labor. We packed up and drove to my parents house Saturday. Mom and I had tickets to an Angel game (perhaps the most stressful part of my weekend, as my beloved team spoiled a chance to pull ahead of Oakland). Sunday, we lounged, ate and dipped in the hot tub.

Jordan might well have been on a full-fledged vacation. But for the visible surgical scar while wearing her bathing suit, an unknowing observer would never have guessed that two weeks before she was hospitalized. She roamed my parents’ house with total command, relaxed and displaying maturity beyond her age. She smiled and occupied herself with coloring and creative games. She instigated the hot tub activity, jumping in nearly an hour before I dragged myself to the water.

Despite my aching back, I relaxed, too. We all did. While my mom played hostess with her usual grace and charm, we vegged. It was therapeutic. My son and I bridged the gap that recently forged between us. We talked, laughed and acted sophomoric. Saturday afternoon I introduced him to the Will Ferrell classic, Anchorman, though I fast-forwarded through the parts I felt were unsuitable for a 9 year-old. For the rest of the weekend he and I quoted our favorite scenes.

Lucas: Dad … Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, that really got out of hand fast!
Me: It jumped up a notch!
Lucas: It did, didn’t it?
Me: Yeah, I stabbed a man in the heart!
Lucas: I saw that. Brick killed a guy.

(you have to see the movie to understand the comedy)

Sunday night, as we loaded into the car to go home, our family was hugging, laughing and talking again. Jordan carried herself with great poise. Somehow she’s grown. She occupies much of her time coloring (in the lines) and practicing her letters. There is a sense of determination in her actions, but it is noble and stoic, not desperate. Her composure has unlocked us all. Now, if I could just get that knot out of my back…