Sometimes You Need To Jump In The Lake

Fall had decided to grace us with her presence. We decided to visit the park by the library. Me, my son, my parents, and niece and nephew. There was the feeding of the ducks. There was the playing on the playground. Wasn’t it idyllic?

Then came the scream. “MY FOOTBALLLLLLL!” We won’t get into the details on how the Nerf ball landed in the middle of the library *lake* (pond is more like it) but there I was, with my hysterical child at the water’s edge, watching as the yellow and orange ball drifted this way and that. Out of reach.

It apparently wasn’t just a football, it was a very special football, my son told me through the tears, his first football (er, really?) and the one that he loved the most. Heaving tears, met by “We’ll get you another” from me and my father. “It won’t be my football!”

Feelings are feelings, even when they are about a $10 beat up Nerf football. This I know to be true. Which is why, seeing my boy cry as he stood in the mud, I told him we would not leave without his football, a promise I wasn’t sure I could quite fulfill. But I meant it.

I’ve lost things, so many things. Hours before I had dreamt of dropping and envelope filled with irreplaceable papers into the ocean. In the dream I was on a photo shoot and trying to hold the envelope above my head, but it fell out of my hands and into the deep waters below. I watched the packet sink, and there was nothing I could do to save it.

Over the past eight months I’ve stood at the end of the deepest waters of my life, letting so many things slip from my hands: in fact, the entire identity I clung to before recovery. “Does everything have to come back to recovery? ” I imagine a reader saying. Yes, yes it does. Because it’s when I got real and reborn.

We moved from one side of the lake to the other, me holding a branch, my son saying that the retrieval was impossible. But the football was drifting closer. So I got closer to it, sinking my gold tennis shoes into the leaf-covered mud. My feet fell fast and into water.

So I got the ball, submurged to my waist in freezing library lake water. Turning around to my son, who was then laughing. “If you ever wonder if I’ll do anything for you, remember this,” I said, holding it up.

Later, in the shower, scrubbing off the mud and warming up, I thought of the lake like a baptism, and that what I retrieved there was far more than a ball. Covered in leaves, unable to feel my feet. The shirt I wore said, “There is hope for us yet.”

Laughing, and redeemed.