As things go down, look to ridge tops


Just this past week, I once again had a meeting with school officials regarding Cort’s on-going struggle with his health and how that pertains to his education.
It may be hard to put words to how difficult these meetings are for me. This certainly isn’t how I had envisioned my son’s high school experience, especially not in his senior year.
Always a class leader, I pictured attending his induction into the National Honor Society, I envisioned cheering him on from the bleachers in football, basketball, baseball. I saw myself on the sidelines, both figuratively and literally, while he lived his glory days of high school, which only come around once in a lifetime.
I didn’t picture these years as a sort of battle on many fronts.
I didn’t picture myself being forced from those sidelines in so many ways, through no choice of our own. I have not been given the gift of a spectator, cheering while watching memories made and dreams unfold.
Relapse. Just two days before this latest meeting, I received a Sunday night call from my son’s doctor, saying it appears Cort is in a relapse. His latest lab work looks bleak, and sadly, it matches the recent daily struggles all too well.
Cort attended this meeting, which is a positive thing, as in recent years he has been far too sick to attend. When the woman heading up the meeting asked him to put some long-range goals in to words, he said he realizes he just simply cannot … he has to make short-term goals and try very hard to reach them.
Loving school. His goal, at this point, is to continue attending school every day that he possibly can. He has loved being there.
A physics class, amazingly, is enjoyable to him. He hasn’t received much of the educational building blocks toward physics, but he is still managing to score high grades in that course. His physics teacher and his biology teacher both said Cort has been a joy to have in their classroom, and they can see how much he enjoys being there, and how much he struggles at times to get through the day.
His yearbook class has given him the opportunity to pursue his love of photography, and the chance to interact with students in a very enjoyable way.
Amazement. But there are days the pain and fatigue and confusion make functioning nearly impossible. There are times I awaken in the middle of the night, battling off a feeling of horror to realize that a tiny little tick did this to my once-healthy, vibrant, strong son.
What has amazed me the most, perhaps, is Cort’s ability to deal with this, without anger, with clear-minded conviction. He recently told a young man who asked him about an array of pills sitting near his plate, “You go with what you’re given.”
I find myself holding on to his positive, unassuming words of wisdom quite often lately. We are going with what we’ve been given, still holding out hope for the path that hugs the ridge tops. …


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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, and three grandchildren.