His hand reached out to hold mine as I spoke. Soft and gently he covered my hand with his, while his warm smiling blue eyes gazed into mine. Attentively in a thoughtful silence, he sat across from me, listening as though he wanted to savor every word that I spoke.
I began telling him a story about my son Cody. A story that happened almost 6 years ago that really challenged and changed me. It was a time in my life that I found demanding me to dig deep with in myself, for answers and strength. Strength to help Cody over come the fear and sorrow that had attempted to claim him and begin controlling his emotions. It was a time when I struggled searching for answers that would help convince Cody and myself that even in sorrow there is joy and that every life has a purpose to fulfill. For just a moment he let go of my hand to remove his glasses. I watched as he wiped the left corner of his eye, where I could not help, but notice, a single tear had formed. With out a word he dabbed at it and just as quickly placed his hand back over mine with a gentle squeeze.
His glasses I noticed he left laying next to where he neatly held my hands. I paused momentarily and asked if he was okay. His face only softened more as he smiled back at me with moist eyes. "Please" he said "go on". I finished telling him this was a time shortly after Cody had stopped walking. It was a time in our world where we had to learn to accept the rest of Cody's life would now be spent confide to a chair. A chair with wheels and that was just the beginning of the muscle loss to come. As I continued on with my story I noticed his eyes stayed fixed on my face. Occasionally he would ask a question and then fall back to listening to me as I answered. I finished telling him that the place that Cody had fallen into almost 6 years ago, was a place so deep in despair, he literally had said he had no reason to keep pushing himself. Eventually he said, he wanted to stop going to school. As his mom my heart broke to see him quit on himself, to give up. As a realist I understood where he was coming from. The reality and the harshness of the world that surrounded us then did nothing to help combat the devastation we were facing. In reality my two youngest children had an expiration date that unlike most of us would come far to soon. But, only after years of pain and suffering. Only after spending years trapped in a chair, and becoming totally dependent on assistance to do things as simple as scratching their chin
It was then, almost 6 years ago, that I decided it would be up to me to help Cody, and myself, see past the ugliness Duchenne had presented our world with. I ended with telling my blue eyed date that Cody not only stayed in school, but, that Cody had graduated last year with honors. Something I never would have imagined my son, with a cognitive delay and terminal disease would achieve. Squeezing my hand he asked how I could speak from the heart with so much passion and so eloquently and not once let go of my smile while speaking. So very simply I told him" my smile" is my shield.
After his eyes had dried and we shared some more stories, with laughter, about our children he asked if I would kindly honor him with another date. Smiling, I said one of us should bring tissues just in case. With that, he leaned into whisper in my ear, thank you. Then he embraced me. As we separated I stepped back to look once more at his face to say goodnight, and quickly noticed, where I had seen tears forming earlier in his eyes there now was a little hint of sparkle.
As I drove home that night from my dinner date I realized it had been quite sometime since I had been on a date that was so genuinely focused on learning about my life in the hopes to know me more. I am not sure I had ever been out with anyone who thanked me for sharing so much of my world with them.