I capitalized “diving” in the title b/c Charlie had a way of talking in which he’d phonetically stress words of the sentence he was saying that he deemed important. It was kind of “sing-songy” and melodic. Hard to explain but everyone that knew him knows exactly what I’m talking about. He used to always ask me if he could, “jump off the DIVING board,” whenever Centennial Pool was in his sights. (To give you an idea of how often this occurred, we live two blocks away from the pool). It didn’t matter if we were driving by during a rain storm, snow storm, or late at night. He wanted to take a jump.
Charlie knew early on that, “only mommy and daddies can jump off those diving boards,” but he still liked to ask to see if we’d give him the answer that he wanted to hear. One day, we were able to say he could jump off a diving board but not the one at our pool. He was very excited to hear that we would be going to Aunt Liz’s house and that she had a diving board he could jump off. He would ask every morning for a week if it was time to go Aunt Liz’s so he could finally jump off. When the time finally came, he hopped up there and ran off without thinking twice. I didn’t notice while in the pool with him but when I watched the video later that day I noticed Charlie push the noodle out of his way on the way back to the ladder. I’ve always thought that was amusing. I picture him thinking, “Noodle?!? I don’t need no stinkin’ noodle!” Charlie spent the rest of the day jumping off that board as I got cramps from treading water waiting for him.
The pain from those cramps has been traded with a constant dull ache in my soul. There are times when the grief physically hurts. These are usually in moments when I am surprised by a sneak attack of emotion that is usually triggered by something as mundane as catching a glimpse of the chocolate milk in the Starbucks’ display. I can hear him asking me for one and an apple fritter every time I go there. The barristas see my pain and I can sense their sadness for my loss as well. The truth is, this pain is omnipresent. It’s my constant companion. Much in the way that Charlie used to be.
Here is a link to the video of Charlie’s first jump off a diving board.