Disclaimer: This post isn't so much about Evan. This post is mainly written for myself, and some very special young ladies, who will always hold a very special place in my heart. If you are not a member of the MCHS cheer squad, you may want to just skip this entry.
The night before our scheduled C-section was spent in downtown St. Louis. We went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant (Charlie Gitto's) and then headed over to the hotel. In those hours, I received numerous text messages, Facebook posts and emails. These were filled with love, support and encouragement. Several from my cheerleaders left me in tears. To have these young women fill my heart with such love was a moving experience. When I held tryouts this year, I was 3 months pregnant. I had no idea what was in store for me, but I knew this season would be unlike any other. As we moved from tryouts to summer camp, Evan's medical issues came to light. There was a point over the summer where I wondered if it would be best for me to turn the squad over to someone else. Would I be able to give them the time and focus they needed? Would the drama and stress that comes from coaching high school girls be to much to deal with? I wasn't sure, but what I did know was that this group of girls is unlike any I've coached before. First of all, there was 23 of them, and that in itself is a lot for one person to take on. I thought about it, and I decided that I had worked to hard and put up with way to much over the past 5 years to walk away from THIS group. This is the group that, along with a wonderful middle school coach, I've gotten to work with since they were 7th and 8th graders. In addition to these ladies, came girls who transferred in, girls who had never cheered before, and girls that left volleyball to give cheer a chance. I decided that this maybe exactly what I needed. It would be a challenge, something to keep me busy, and hopefully, keep my spirits up. I can say without a doubt, that this is exactly what happened. (Thank goodness too, because this decision could have gone the other way and ended in disaster!)
They are young, and as young ladies often do, they worry about things like who is sitting with who on the bus, how their jeans fit that day and if their makeup looks just right. These are the type of things they SHOULD be worried about. Sadly, they also have bigger issues. Things kids shouldn't have to deal with or worry about. I normally keep my life private (as much as you can in a small town ;) but I felt that maybe if I shared what I was going through, it would help them see that you can be faced with a less than ideal situation and still find the good. To stay positive and focus on the good things in your life, not just the bad. To get up and go on with your daily life, even when all you want to do is lay in bed and cry. That we are ALL stronger than we know.
To say that we had a wonderful season would be an understatement. (I could talk about the reduction of drama, the fact that they rarely missed practice/games/community events, or their squad GPA of 3.6...but I think this story sums up the season better.)Early on (week 2 or 3) They cheered for 2 hours in the POURING rain (thank you, hurricane Issac!) with only 20-30 people sitting in the stands. Did I see a frown or two at first? Sure, but by game time, they were dancing and singing and having FUN. As I stood below the bleachers watching them the cheesy cliche was almost enough to make me laugh out loud. Here were these girls, dancing like complete goofballs in the pouring rain, soaked to the bone with mascara streaming down their faces, and they didn't care. They were dancing the rain with not a single care as to how they looked, or how uncomfortable they felt. They were making the best of a bad situation. I had started this season thinking maybe my positive outlook would rub off on them. And there they were, dancing in the rain. Showing me that even when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.
As the season drew to a close, I cherished each game. In years passed, as the season wore on, Id be frustrated by the cold weather, the drama, cheer moms...but this year none of that was an issue. Every game I made it to was one more I got to spend with "my girls." As I boarded that bus for our 1st, and then 2nd post season district game, I thanked God. Not only because of the extra time I got to spend with these wonderful young women, but because it was one more week of Evan's lungs developing. One more week of him growing strong. At our last game, these ladies surprised me with two framed letters, one to me, and one to Baby Evan. Again, I was amazed by their spirit and dedication to this squad, to each other and to me. The letter to Evan sat on a shelf in his room at the NICU, a constant reminder of some pretty special young ladies. I am so thankful I didn't hand this group over to someone else. They brought a great deal sunshine into my life and when I look back at that summer and fall, yes, there was heartbreak, sadness and worry...but there was also laughter, joy and many MANY memories.
Love you ladies :)