Since Courtney has been away at school, I have taken to walking Gizmo (our dog) each morning before work. It gives me exercise and gives me 1/2 hour to myself. As I was walking this morning, I passed the local church where Brandon had his Cub Scout/Boy Scout meetings. In one quick flash a flood of emotions took over.
Brandon had just started Cub Scouts when Mike got sick. Our close friends involved with the Troop knew the situation and they were supportive. The other families that we knew only casually, didn't know. I struggled constantly about how they perceived Mike and his childish, often "different" behavior. I was never one to go up to someone and introduce ourselves and explain Mike's illness. I remembered those days when I imagined all eyes on me because Mike was acting more like one of the Boy Scouts than he was one of the fathers. Still, I continued to bring Mike to the meetings and ceremonies, for as long as I could.
At Pinewood Derby time, I would help Brandon design and build his cars. Mike would also get involved, but at that time, he would become very frustrated and it often didn't pay to let him help, because his frustration was not worth it. I always tried to avoid as much tension as possible for Mike and the kids.
As Brandon got older and the Boy Scouts went camping, I accompanied him on those trips. Of course, I would always zero in on the fact that I was there with Brandon, when all the other boys had their dads with them. I didn't want Brandon to miss out on the experience.... so I went camping. Our very first expereience was one we will never forget. Brandon and I went out on a Friday, even though the rest of the troop was going to be out there on Saturday. This was our VERY first camping trip. We had to borrow a tent, sleeping bags, lanterns . I had no clue as to what I was doing. The first night at camp, I had to go to another troop and ask one of the other leaders how to light the lantern. That night it started to rain - storm actually. The thunder and lightning were horrible and the only thing between me and Brandon and the storm, was the thin nylon of our tent. During the night, we heard a crack and a bang. The next morning we awoke to find that a tree had fallen right next to us. The rest of Brandon's troop arrived later that morning, but the rain continued the entire day. It was so bad that there was not one dry part on any of us. Saturday afternoon, the boys were visited by the Head Scoutmaster for Long Island and congratulated each and every boy who stuck it out. By mid-day, most of the other campers had packed it in and headed home, but we stuck it out. That night the boys had a great time around a huge campfire and I never laughed so hard, even if I was the only mom there.
As Brandon got older, the camping trips were becomming more frequent. He appraoched me one day and said that he no longer wanted to be in the Boy Scouts. He had just gotten back from a camping trip by himself, when he said, "mom, everywhere I looked, all the other boys had their dad with them and I didn't". This hurt me to the core and I knew that no matter what I did for him, he would never have his dad to share this experience with. He quit Boy Scouts shortly thereafter.
All these memories and more came flooding back to me, by the simpe, act of walking past the church where Brandon's meetings were held. At that time, I had no idea how long and difficult this journey was going to be. I think that's what upset me most. Thinking about where we were back then, and where we are now, and all that we missed in between.