My first memory of my cousin Glen (or, as we called him growing up, “Little Glen” since his dad’s name is…you know…Glen) is actually a very nice memory, which means it would probably make Glen blush to hear me tell it.
So I’m going to.
Glen and I got to see each other quite a bit growing up, as he only lived a few miles away. For a very brief time, Glen and I even attended the same grade school. Glen is a year older than me, but we got to see each other and hang out during recess. This particular day (I don’t recall what grade I was in. Maybe the third. Or the first. I don’t know. Glen may remember better than I do) we were just hanging out by this wall, talking about whatever elementary school kids talk about.
For some reason, we had decided to lean on the same wall against which kids were playing dodge ball. I have no idea what possessed us to pick the same wall as the dodge balls kids, but we did. We were clearly separated from them enough so they would know we weren’t participating in the game…or at least I thought we were. I was in mid-sentence when I was smashed in the face with a ball. And I mean smashed. Whoever threw it threw it as hard as they could, and it felt like it was thrown by a major league pitcher. I still to this day don’t know if it was a wild throw, or if they thought we were in the game, or if they were just being a jerk, but it was a direct shot.
I saw major stars and my nose decided it should begin bleeding. I didn’t say anything, I didn’t cry or make a sound, I was just…stunned. My face was both numb and stinging with pain simultaneously. I didn’t look around to see who threw it, I just stood there with my hands in front of me, trying to compute what just happened. I was turned facing Glen when I got hit, so I had no clue there was a ball anywhere near my face.
Thinking back on it, I guess it’s a little odd that no one did anything. The kids just kept playing ball and the recess monitors stood there watching me, their whistles in hand, as if nothing happened.
Glen put his arm on my shoulder and walked me to some nearby steps. I remember being really dizzy and disoriented. He sat me down and told me it was OK, and then…just kept talking to me. I don’t remember exactly what Glen said, but I know he told me I was going to be OK. I can remember how grateful I was that he was there. My face was still stinging an incredible amount, I could almost feel how red it must be, and my nosebleed was slowly coming under control.
And Glen just talked to me.
It probably doesn’t sound like much now. ‘Oh big deal, you got hit and someone said you’d be OK.’ But it was more than that. Of all the people on the playground that day, Glen was the only one to say something. And it wasn’t a panicked ‘Oh no, oh no oh no you got hit!’ kid reaction, either. Just a calm, solid, “it’s OK.”
It was nice to have family there at that moment. I guess I needed it.