I thought/ hoped that I was past all of those painful firsts since we are beyond our first year after the official EDS diagnosis. But, there is one I forgot to prepare for, because it only occurs every 4 years and it is a rather big deal to me.
You have to understand…I love the Olympics. Love, love, love them. I love the history and the tradition and the pageantry and the patriotism and two weeks of the youth of the world being united. I love the underdogs and the shoe-ins and the winners and the losers and each touching story of the blood, sweat and tears it took to get to the Olympics. Simply put, the Olympics are about dreams and dreams are powerful things. For me, that is what it is about.
Truly, I am the most non athletic person in the world and I really don’t care much about sports one way or the other most of the time. But, every 4 years (well, really every 2 years because I love the summer and winter games equally), I become a Fan of Sport for 2 straight weeks – all sport, doesn’t matter which one. If it is in the Olympics, I will happily watch it. Curling? Pop some popcorn. Badminton? Turn it up. Hockey? Yeah, sure. Ya Betcha. The Marathon? Woohoo!
While I will gladly watch any sport with an official Olympic stamp of approval, I do have my favorite Summer Olympic sports… Swimming, diving, track and field. Gymnastics.
And there is the rub. Gymnastics has always been my favorite – I think every little girl watches the US gymnasts compete and thinks how great it would be to do that. But, the last time we watched the Summer Olympics – in 2008 – Em was ‘fine’ and still in gymnastics and we had never even heard of Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She and I sat and watched the Olympic gymnasts together – and dreamt of things larger than ourselves. We had no idea that those dreams would soon be stolen by a thief lurking in her genes.
Now it is 2012 and so much has changed. Em is now unable to do the sport she dearly loves – unlike me, her love of gymnastics was more than just as a spectator. She, like every other little girl who has ever put on a leotard, harbored Olympic dreams. While actually going to the Olympics was probably never in the cards for her, even without EDS, she was still the real deal – she had real talent. And those dreams were stolen from her. Now, even watching gymnastics is painful for her and watching athletes in any sport do their thing is just a reminder of what she has lost. And I have to weigh my love of the Olympics against my kid’s emotional well being.
I generally try to have a positive attitude, but it is hard at times and this is one of those times. It is in moments like this that I hate EDS. It has taken so much from us – from Em in particular. For it to taint my beloved Olympics just isn’t fair. But, to go from Gymnast to a wheel chair in a year’s time is a brutal and breathtaking change for a kid to live with. To say THAT is unfair, doesn’t even begin to describe it.
The opening ceremony in London is tonight. I will be watching because I cannot NOT watch. But, there will be a shadow over the games for me. A little of the joy will be gone: the dreams have dimmed a bit and the torch will not burn as brightly for me in this first Olympics since Em was diagnosed. Perhaps future Olympics will be easier, but this one will certainly be bittersweet and I sadly suspect it will never quite be the same.