Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Nashville (part one)

I'm holding an air sickness bag. It's not empty.

It's not mine either. I would much prefer that it was, but it's from Eli 12.7, who has now thrown up five times in the last five hours. The first time was at 4:55 a.m., five minutes before we needed to leave for the airport.

That's not much time to make a decision. If he was younger, or this was vacation, we would have pulled back immediately. It was a hockey tournament, though, and a big one. His team wasn't taking a second goalie, so there was no one to take his place. He'd been looking forward to this for months.

"I feel a little better," he said after he threw up the first time. We decided (totally conflicted) to head for the airport.

Then he threw up on the plane. And in the Dallas airport, where I pushed him in a wheelchair to a connecting flight. And on the flight to Nashville. He threw up so many times, in fact, that I lost the details of one of them entirely.

So this is why I'm holding an air sickness bag, desperately wishing that it had been me instead. He's incredibly polite when he retches, so quiet that I can hardly hear him, but he is very pale and moaning at intervals.

This trip was supposed to be a celebration at the end of the season, a season where he played spectacularly at times, and with increasing frequency after Thanksgiving. He was 7-1 after he came back from the cracked rib, won his last five games, and won all three playoff games: 3-2, 3-2 (on a goal with :04 left), and 5-4 (in a shootout).

His team had finished third in their league, which put them in the top ten teams in the state, and they'd been a non-stop thrill ride. And I'd seen no one--all season long--who looked better than Eli did in net.

He'd been razor-sharp in 4x4 the night before. "Dad, I am so ready to play in this tournament," he said, and there was no reason to doubt him. He was twelve years old and larger than life.

Now, though, he is a sick little boy.

We finally land in Nashville, and get to the hotel by early afternoon. He's so tired that he just collapses face first on the bed and is asleep in seconds. He stays that way for over an hour, then takes off his jeans and crawls under the covers.

Later, he manages to drink some Powerade. Total food consumption for the day: five saltine crackers. His fever that night is 101.9F.

His team plays the next day at 4:40 p.m. I have no idea how he can play, and I don't care. I just want him to feel better.

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