Let’s say this isn’t the most flattering picture I have ever taken, but than I don’t have many pictures sitting on my computer of myself.
This would have been the summer of 1987, not long before something changed that affected too many aspects of my life. One that continues to hang over me to this very moment. I was at basketball camp, the same camp I attended every summer hoping that someone would help me learn to elevate my game to a level I wasn’t embarrassed to try dunking the ball. I was at the typical tipping point for being able to physically achieve that goal, but my mind just had some hangups about the process.
In the picture I’m 6’4″ tall and about 185 pounds. Big for a kid of 15 years. The t-shirt did come with sleeves, but I removed them so I could both fit in it and be able to move around with the ball. My little brother was the only other person from my school who went here, so I was learning from guys who I eventually would be playing against. The coaches once told me if I felt like moving, they would gladly coach a guy like me. I wanted to learn. I never expected to go to college for it, and I never did, but I really just wanted to learn. I was desperate to learn more about the game.
Baseball came easy, basketball not as much. I never really learned how to control my body. Damn those teenage years!
I know from my memory that I was walking forward to accept an award for being the most improved player from that week. Like I said, hobbyist at best. Baseball really ended the week before, so I wasn’t out shooting at the hoops before that week.
But this is where we get better information about everything I am. This picture was taken on a friday, by the same time the next day i was in the hospital being told about my first experience with cancer. I had gone to dunk the ball and lost my footing as I came back down, broke my knee cap. Shattered it like a pie plate falling off the counter. It’s currently made of Dupont Ceramic. A long summer was ahead of me.
After all the chemicals, promises and life-saving procedures I was better. I was lucky. When I went back to school that fall was when I met someone who helped me in ways that I still can’t fully thank them for. She pushed me in directions I didn’t want, made me try when I didn’t think I could. Her sitting there while I walked out on the basketball court after months of nothing was helpful. Patre made me try, even though we both admitted later we knew I wasn’t ready. That I couldn’t keep up with others, and that most people were letting me get by them just to avoid hurting me.
Right now I’m living with her parents as I go through yet another round of hell. We share that whole daughter loss thing that makes us family. They help in a way no one us has been able to, or maybe willing to; it really does depend on who I’m talking about. Patre’s been gone a long time, her influence hasn’t stopped in the ensuing 27 years. She saved me from myself back then and her family is fighting with everything they have to try to save me now. That gift is more important to me than any I have ever received!
That picture was a fun time, it led to some things that helped and some that didn’t. Without having fallen that day, I may have not known how sick I was until it was beyond anyone’s ability to fix, to help me.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Snapshot Stories.”