"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength."
Sunday was Austen's last tournament baseball game and I must say he was very sad. Unfortunately, this was not a winning season. For a 12 year old boy who lives and dies sports winning is everything and losing is not an option. As I wrote in my post about Austen on May 22nd, he is extremely intense when it comes to his passions....baseball being his number one. There have been times when he has got into the car to drive home after a game and he will recount every play of the game to try to figure out why they did not win. He would practice every hour of everyday if we did not redirect him to other things. He begs his brothers to practice with him but they have learned that just leads to him smacking the ball out of the yard into the woods and them chasing after it. They will play for a while and then just walk away as he tries to bribe them into staying. On evenings in the summer you can find Austen, his brothers and the neighbor kids all gathered on the street while Austen tries to convince them to play his sport of choice that evening. All of them knowing that Austen will take over the game. At times I actually worry that maybe he is to intense and needs to take a break. In fact some of his punishments for picking on his brothers or possible not finish a chore has been a day without sports. Where other parents are taking away privileges like television, video games or leaving the home, we are taking away his sports privileges. Sounds strange but he straightens up real fast.
As much as he loves his sports is as hard as he is on himself. So Sunday when he lost his last game in his mothers old neighbor of Greenfield where actually he played against some of his old friends he was quite distraught to say the least. When I got in the car to go home after the lost I heard some sniffling coming from the back seat. When I started to lecture him about it's not always about winning (knowing I really deep down don't believe that, but that is what a mother should say) and with all our family is going through you need to think of what is important, he stopped me dead in my tracks. And in his "mom you don't know anything voice" he said, "It not the losing thing anymore mom, it's the escape I got from you being sick that I will miss". He added that going to baseball even just batting practice made him feel like we were a normal family without cancer. He explained to me that he loved seeing me taking pictures at his game and cheering him on. He told me that is why every home run he hit this season the ball went to me and that was the way he could make me smile. He also said that he will miss playing baseball with his friends and he hates that the game is over until next season.
He continue on to say that he knows that every time he loses it makes him stronger. He even went as far as comparing it to my journey by saying, "like mom when you have to try a new treatment it may not work but you keep trying something else." I started to cry silently like I do, but the tears just started rolling. Of course the teenage Austen that has appeared in our family a few months ago came back and he made it quite known that I should stop crying before dad gets in the car. He also told me that I am so sensitive. I knew that meant he was done talking about his feelings and I wiped the tears away quickly.
The whole conversation took less then 5 minutes but it made me realizes that he finally gets why I am doing all I can do. There are times when I start to feel bad for my boys. They have not asked nor do they deserve to have a mom with a cancer that is incurable. It is not fare that they have to wait for a baseball game to feel that they have a normal life. Although, I try to hide the pain and sickness that I get from the disease progressing it is inevitable that my boys will see some of my suffering. It saddens me at times that they actually look for days that mom is feeling good so that they can have fun with me. But when I look back at moments like this one in the car I truly appreciate what this cancer has taught my family. It proves that your struggles develop your strengths. And when you go through adversities without giving into them, that is strength. That strength that you get going through those hard times will lead you to being a winner one day. I may not win against this cancer, but I will know that my boys have won from my battle. They have learned that regardless of how you feel inside or how close you are to losing, always try to look like a winner with your appearance and attitude. Even if it looks hopeless, with faith and confidence you can have a victory. It might not be at a game, but it will be at life.
Austen has won so much more then some dust collecting trophies this past season. He has won friendships that will last a lifetime. The Carney family knows first hand how important that is this time in our lives. He has won endurance to not quit when it looks like the end results are not in your favor. Much like the endurance that is needed to fight this cancer. He has won the knowledge that winning does not always mean the score at the end of a game, but the lessons you have learned from losing. He has won by learning that winning is not everything, but the will to win is everything. Mostly, he has won the faith to keep trying and believing that a true winner is one that does not quit.
"Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender that is strength.
P.S. Don't forget to register for the wiffle ball game. Time is running out.