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The Swim Meet

Saturday, May 7, 2011
Last weekend, I took my daughter, Julia, to a swim meet at Auburn University to compete.  It was the first meet in which I entered her to swim since the Short Course State Championships in February. We came home from that meet two days before Michael's accident.  We would usually both go watch her swim at the State meets, but that weekend we had to divide our responsibilities as parents.  The Boy Scout troop had a camping outing, and so Michael, being the Scout Master, took Michael Anthony to camp and I went to the state meet with Julia.  She had a great meet, swam her best times in most of her events, and made it to finals placing in the top 16 in all of her events but one.  Any time  Michael or I were at a swim meet without the other, we would text one another after each race to tell how she had done.  He would always text back encouraging words to her.  That weekend of the state meet was no different.  We actually had an even higher sense of expectation than usual because she had been so diligent in attending her swim practices, even the ones at 5:30 am.

The 5:30 morning practices became something she secretly enjoyed because it was her own time with her Dad.  She likes a good cup of coffee in the morning, like her Dad did, and was only allowed to have a full cup on those mornings.  They would get up at five and each get dressed for their respective workouts, then meet in the kitchen to pour their coffee in their travel cups.... his was always black and hers was half and half with French Vanilla cream added to it. (In fact, I bought her a new coffee travel mug at the state meet that they were selling with the swim apparel.  It was pink and said SWIM across the middle.... we thought it would be a perfect early morning practice cup for their rides together in the car.)  They would then drive to the pool and back alone in the car, in the quiet of the early morning hours.  She would not finish her coffee on the way to the pool,  so she would leave it in his car to drink and visit some more on the way back. After getting back home, she would relax in the kitchen while finishing her coffee and play Words with Friends on her iPod, while Michael walked Brady.  He was always so proud of her for doing those early morning practices, and he told her so.

I looked back at our texting conversation from the state meet weekend.  For the sake of recording it in another place besides my cell phone, I want to share how he stayed connected, even when he was not present.
Jene: Just swam the 200 free...which she swam in the relay last night & cut 3 seconds.... she just cut 3 more seconds!  Got 3rd in her heat & I think 8th overall:)  Finals tonight!
Michael: Awesome!!  That's fantastic!  Remind her of her hard work at those early am practices. Love u
Michael(that night after finals): How did Julia do?
Jene': Finished 7th in the butterfly tonight
Michael: That's great!  Give each other a kiss for me!!
Jene':  K:) Love you!  Enjoy your time outside!
Jene'(next day): She is back tonight for finals in the 50 free & the 200 fly! She made herself nervous sick this morning over the 200 fly:)
Michael: Unbelievable!  I'm SO proud of her!!!

Watching Julia walk to the blocks for her first race at Auburn ,while I was sitting in the bleachers, overwhelmed me with emotions.  I was so unbelievably proud of her for competing again and feeling lonely for her and me at the same time.  Her Dad was no longer there to share in her successes.  I felt so much love for her at that moment and broke down to cry. I could barely see her do all of her cap and goggle preparations that she does before she steps onto the blocks because my vision was blurred from the tears.  I was sitting next to a friend and she had her arm around me as we watched this beautiful, strong, young woman/child, gear herself up for her first race since her Dad died.  I could hardly breathe. She swam and she swam well.  She did not add time or take away, which under the circumstances, was a huge victory.  A few minutes after she swam I received a text from her that read, "Are you doing okay?"....  I did not realize it, but she had noticed me crying in the stands. I replied, "Yes:) I love you:)  GREAT job!!!"

She never got to use the new pink SWIM travel cup with him.  She uses it now on the mornings that it is her turn to walk Brady.  When she is done with the walk, she sits in the kitchen by herself, enjoying the rest of her coffee, the quiet time, and plays Words with Friends.  I did away with the rule of only having coffee on days of the early morning practices and I make it every night for her and set the pot to go off in the morning, like I did for her Dad.  It is good therapy for me to keep making it, and it is good for her to think of him every morning as she drinks it.


Anonymous Says:
May 7, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Bless her heart (and yours,too)..my Daddy died 01-21-02 (he was 74). I miss him deeply but the pain is...I guess I will say "more tolerable". For the about the 1st year after he died I would break down and cry just out of nowhere..like in the middle of the grocery store (just leave my buggy and groceries, had to get out of there). He loved Christmas, a beautiful sunny morning, sunflowers, fishing, about the 1st year those were stinging reminders that he physically not with us. Then the thought came to me (what would Daddy want me to do?) I got better but the void will always be there. Just look up...they are there looking over us. DH

Rene Says:
May 7, 2011 at 7:53 PM

First let me say again what a blessing it was to see you yesterday. I truly mean it when I use the word blessing. Even in the midst of your pain, your face radiates the peace of Christ. His Spirit is so alive in you that it can't help but come out.
Second, I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. You are truly a Proverbs 31 woman. As I read in a previous post, it seems that others have told you this as well. I love to see the body of Christ be like minded. In the letter I sent you I said that Proverbs 31 tells us she does her husband good all the days of her life. I encouraged you to keep doing so. By sharing this Blog that is exactly what you are doing my friend. You are letting others see what a Godly man, husband and father really looks like. I hope you realize that lives are being changed by your faithfulness to share Michael's memory.
Finally,I prayed for you today. I prayed for you to breathe, to be still, to have peace, and for you body to be calm....no pits in the stomach, no anxious feelings. I prayed for you to enjoy your children and your mom. I prayed for the Lord to continue to do immeasurably, abundantly more than we can ever ask for or imagine. What a privelage it is to watch Him do this in your life. I love you........Rene'

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