I stood next to my son Cody as our friend spoke to the audience. Listening quietly, as he passionately spoke about his work with USSA. An organization that grants hunting and fishing wish trips to children with terminal illnesses. My son Cody just happened to be one of these very special youths who were granted a hunting trip in 2013. This particular weekend we had been invited as guest to a Taxidermist awards banquet. The night held a very special purpose for Cody. He would be presented during this banquet with the bear he had harvested on his trip the past September. Not only was Cody granted the opportunity to bear hunt, but also very generously a taxidermist had offered to personally do a full mount of the bear Cody had harvested.
Off to the side of me I saw the dark tall figure slowly being moved forward toward us. I had been working on my own speech, silently in in my head, should our dear friend invite me to say a few words on behalf Cody and myself. I squeezed slightly Cody's hand, as the large animal drew closer. The emotions that filled me standing next to my son, left me in complete awe. I had never seen Cody's face so illuminated, as our friend announced to Cody and the dinner guest, that this was his bear.
As a parent, this was one of those rare moments we all hope and dream about for our children. A moment when you celebrate exhilarating joy, in your child's life. A moment when you share the unexpected triumph of exceeding the unexpected. I was for the first time in real life seeing the bear my physically challenged son had personally harvested, 6 months earlier. Now standing next to us, was a full mount chocolate brown black bear.
I drifted back in thought to the weekend when Cody had departed on his hunting trip along with my sister and brother in law. It was a difficult decision for me to have to choose to stay back home with Cody's younger brother who also battled the same horrific terminal illness. The week before I had accompanied him on his hunting wish trip. After weighing the different needs between Josiah and Cody it was in the best interest for Josiah's care that I stay back and let my sister Marie and her husband Bill assist Cody on his hunt. I momentarily recalled that day when my sister had text me from just outside the woods to say, Cody had gotten his bear. After only being in the woods just under 2 hours, he had his first shot and manged to harvest his bear. Cody's first words spoken over the phone to me were" I did it mom". Tears immediately filled my eyes as he spoke. To Cody and I those words meant so much more than him having a successful hunt. He had proven to himself he was very capable of doing something other young men his age could do. He had just experienced what it felt like to focus on his abilities rather than his disabilities. He had chosen to see past his limitations, accept a challenge and feel the triumphs of his own success. Cody with his multiple challenges, using an adapted rifle had harvested a bear, deep in the woods of International Falls, MN.
His remarkable moment of that day in the woods, was now as we stood with the microphone in hand bringing tears to some eyes. Cody's inspiring story was even now reaching out and touching more lives than I had thought.
There has been many occasions where I have been extremely proud of all of my sons for their achievements. As a parent I have to say, the joy is almost overwhelming though, when you can share it with people who understand the magnitude of courage, determination and strength it takes to make something such as; harvesting a bear with severe physical limitations happen. With sincere gratitude and thanks I have to say my journey with Cody and his younger brother only begins at home. It is through these wonderful people we have met along the way, who have given so much of themselves, that help in making our dreams become reality.