I asked my thirty year old son to recall a moment from his childhood. Together we wrote this poem which has become symbolic of the many brave things he's done in his life. I'm so proud of the man he has become.
By TJ Gehman and Catherine Gehman
(A mother and son recall swimming lessons on a Saturday at Parkland Pool)
As clear as it was yesterday;
Moments stand still in time, accurate and detailed like realistic art.
The vivid colors of my children’s childhood was painted in my heart.
I have trouble recalling detailed memories;
Impressions imprinted on my mind, less like a hyper realistic painting
and more like blotches of vivid color on an expressionist painting.
I sat on the bleachers,
Young heads and little butts
Bob up and down, thread in and out of the water.
I remember the
Smell of the chlorine;
conversations echo from the bleachers;
the give of the diving board as I inched my way forward;
Chlorine burns my nostrils,
Raindrops bead on the skylight above.
I peel of my sweater in the sauna-like room.
Sarah entertained by Grandpa,
Baby Drew squirms in Daddy’s arms,
While TJ swims in unison with the other six year olds in the pool.
It’s time to jump off the high dive;
One by one up they climb,
Like little bombs they jump,
Instructor waits for each.
TJ’s last in line;
Look of concern grabs at my heartstrings.
Terror feels its way deep in the pit of my stomach
I looked down
into the pool
from what seemed to be
100 feet up.
He took his time;
Inched his way up.
Time, he needs time.
Go ahead. You can do it.
The instructor opens her arms and coaches the reluctant student.
Slowly the room grows quiet,
And all eyes move to the the boy on the high dive.
His toes grab the end of the board,
His eyes focused only on the water that will catch his descent.
Suspense filled strangers wait;
Who doesn’t remember doing something scary for the first time?
One minute, maybe two.
To a parent, an eternity.
Please, God, help him to do it.
He draws in a breath,
And springs off the board;
Arms flail, but
Feet first, nonetheless.
Splashing deep into the pool,
He shoots up,
Gasps for air,
Followed by ear to ear smile.
Our eyes meet and know what he has done.
The room has broken into applause for a little boy
Who jumped off the high dive for the first time.
And - jump!
Thrill. Relief. Accomplishment.
You are so brave!
I’ll remember this, every detail, like it was yesterday, forever.