Mary-BethbwCheryl’s Adventure - Someone else’s shoes
By Cheryl Copeland

The alarm clock began buzzing. Kyle wanted nothing more than to snooze for five more minutes. Five more minutes of peace. Is that really too much to ask for, he thought. But he knew better than to risk being late for school.

cherylsiloTo complete the morning ritual Kyle and his younger brother, Scott, kissed their mother goodbye before heading out to catch the bus. The boys did their best to walk in unison as they scrunched beneath one umbrella trying to avoid the rain that was attacking them from every angle.

When the boys safely made it to school they gave each other a fist pump as they departed to their own wings of the building. This had become their own private way of saying “Love you man,” without being identified as oddballs in the halls.

In first period, Kyle slumped into his seat. He was not looking forward to seeing the sea of red marks on his paper that were inevitably going to be on his latest math test. His biggest fear was that his teacher would make a huge deal about how he needs to apply himself and complete his homework each night – the typical teacher lecture.

Throughout the morning, Kyle dealt with the soggy socks and managed to live through his math class. But nothing prepared him for the students that he would run into while changing clothes for gym class. Discretely dressing into his gym gear behind the locker room curtains, he heard kids snickering about a particular pair of shoes. “What a loser! These have been ragged to hell and back! Seriously dude! Get a new pair of shoes!”

Simultaneously as Kyle realized that his left shoe was missing, he felt the sting of the shoe bomb nailing him in the back. Any kid that launches a shoe through a curtain deserves retaliation. Kyle wanted nothing more than to lash out and give these boys what they deserved, but the mere thought of his mother receiving a call from the principal calmed his animal instincts. Quietly, he put his shoe on and walked through the pack of laughter, luckily, without any further confrontation.

On the bus ride home, Kyle did his best to get through his homework knowing that he would be pressed for time. Once home he quickly warmed up leftovers in the microwave, ate in record time, and made sure that his brother was set up with dinner and homework. With that done he headed out for football practice on his mountain bike. He knew that he’d have to pedal twice as fast – he would be cutting it close!

Nearing the outer fence of the field Kyle literally jumped off the bike and began his final sprint to center field. He ran with his gear with every ounce of energy he possessed wanting to make it to the coach before the whistle blew. As he cleared the five-yard line, his heart sank as he heard three short blows of the whistle. He was late.

Coach lit into him about the importance of time. “If you want to be a part of this team you will be here ON TIME! There are NO excuses for being late unless you were attending your mother’s funeral! You just bought yourself ten laps!”

The coach’s words cut his heart like a knife. Kyle put the rest of his gear on and firmly replied, “Yes Sir,” and began his laps. His legs burned with escalated intensity after each lap, but the songs in his head helped to pass the time away. This workout medley was the precursor that would one day lead him to take up the Iron Man.

Football practice was grueling, but Kyle loved football with all his heart. Hidden also was the desire to be successful on the field in hopes that his dad would return; the fondest memories with his father always included a football. He missed his dad. Practice ended with five additional laps, and then came his five mile ride home. Kyle raced back knowing that his mother would soon be worried if he wasn’t there by 9 o’clock sharp. Once there he headed straight to the shower; the morning rain made for quite the muddy practice. With streams of water beating across his face, unleashing all of the day’s frustrations, he quietly began to cry. This was the one place that he could release the pain and go unnoticed, even by his mother.

Once dressed and ready for bed, Kyle did a quick check of his brother's homework and packed lunches for the next day. He set their book bags down in the foyer, turned off the lights, locked the doors and quietly walked back to his mother’s bedroom. His mother was resting in bed. Smiling at him as he stood in her doorway she softly whispered, “It’s okay sweetie, I’m awake.” Kyle moved to the side of the bed and lay down by her side. His mother had always told him that he would never be too old to snuggle. He agreed.

A few moments of silence passed. The only sound in the room Kyle could hear was that of his mother’s heartbeat. Rustling his partially wet hair his mother asked him cheerfully, “So, how was your day?” Smiling, Kyle shared with her that it was his best day yet. He hugged her, and she softly kissed him on the head replying, “I’m so happy to hear that dear.”

Kyle got up to get his mom her water from the bed stand. With it, he handed her the pile of evening pills.

When the last pill had vanished, Kyle kissed his mom on the head and said, “How did your chemo treatment go today?”

You can reach Cheryl at cheryl@gwinnettcitizen.com