My sons know the date of their first dunk. Apparently, that’s a huge milestone for young ballers. I missed this rite of passage for my oldest son but I was the sole witness/cheerleader when my youngest leapt into his personal history book. He asked me to videotape, which I didn’t mind. At least, I was patient for the first dozen attempts in the sweltering Texas heat. When I hesitantly suggested his legs needed a rest and perhaps he should try again the next day. He refused. “I can do it. I know I can do it, Mom.” I nodded agreement though there was nothing tangible to convince me. He was close to the rim the first time, but by the fourteenth time his dream was far above his head.
I know that feeling well. The parts to my goals have always been larger than the box they came in.
I told my son he had one more chance before I took the ball from him and made him call it a day. He looked through me, double dribbled once…twice…three times before he took several long strides toward the portable goal. I felt myself grip the camera tighter when he palmed the ball. If possible, I willed him those last two inches of hops he needed to clear the rim’s strong defense of the net.
I thought of his first dunk two years ago when I planned an event for the community with no money and a few pledges of support. (How do nonprofit people do that year after year?) I thought about that moment when I published my first novel. And I thought about it today while talking to my oncologist. Whenever I need to be successful at something that defies explanation, I think about that dunk and I try, try again.