The Bundle of Energy

She bounced into the room wearing her complete collection of cardinal and gold. Behind her, on the television, USC had just kicked off its home game against Washington State. Jordan rolled her arms and shouted out to rally support from the living room audience, proudly showing off her USC sweatshirt.

– Give me a U! Give me an S! Give me a C! What’s that spell?

Sometimes she gets it backwards.

– Give me an S! Give me a U! Give me a C! What’s that spell?
We all chant: SUC! She just glowers at us, then corrects herself.

We indulged her calls for spirit gladly and gently reminded her to step away from the television. She lept onto my lap and cheered every play … every 2-yard screen pass, every crushing run into the Washington defense, every extra point after our many touchdowns. During commercials, she’d rattle on about going to USC one day to become a cheerleader and then a nurse. Usually, these pronouncements were made while she munched on chips and dip, her favorite football snack.

She had a great weekend, showing some of her best behavior. It’s still touch and go sometimes, but when she works hard at it, she’s buoyant and pleasant. She’s a child who just loves to cuddle. She enjoys sneaking up on you and pouncing with a “boo!” She loves to laugh, sometimes so hard she doubles over, and her laugh is infectious. Most of all, she loves to make us laugh. “That’s my job,” she’ll say, “to crack my family up.”

This weekend we noticed that she had boundless energy. She rose early, then started many self-imposed projects. Notably, cleaning her room never made her short list, though it was one we emphasized as a priority. She practiced her hula hoop, rode her bike, played with the dog and produced a series of colorful drawings. She was always on the go, which was sometimes annoying to the grown ups who longed for a few minutes of quiet rest. But Jeanette and I never complain too much about seeing her so animated and engaged.

It is the last week in September, and the unusually cold, wet weekend whet all of our appetites for autumn. But it also renewed superstitious dread. The month of October has not been kind to our family these past three years. Last year Jordan was comatose and hospitalized for over a week in October. The year before she began her slow dissent into chemotherapy troubles. And the year before, she was diagnosed. The month that throughout my life has brought me the greatest sense of living has only recently become a month of doubt. We are tiptoeing into autumn this year, and hopeful when we watch Jordan balance so many accomplishments in her current life.

On Sunday we had friends over for an informal feast. It was a beautiful afternoon. The day had warmed enough that we ended up on the front driveway in our shirt sleeves, throwing a football around. Luc has joined the football team at his school and the pigskin finds its way into virtually everything he does. Jordan wanted to play in our game of catch. Watching her was a pleasure. She cocked the ball back behind her ear as her face transformed into a grimmace of determination and aggression. Her lip curled, ner nose crinckled and her eyes squinted as she focused on her target, and with a grunt she’d throw the ball as hard as she could. I’ve often heard coaches and trainers tell their athletes to “get mad at it.” Jordan does. Nothing slows her. She wants to do everything. And our fingers are crossed that this fall she will.