Well, the little dream of his remained. And grew. But there was time... No rush to break the news to this smart, funny, gregarious boy that only wanted a normal life. He had enough to deal with. Daily medicine, treatments, doctor visits. It was important to let him know he could be completely normal. Just like everybody else. Even better, in fact.
After all, he runs so fast, swims circles around others, and points his skis down the steepest of slopes without looking back or slowing down. A metaphor for how he has lives each day. He is actively defeating the odds. He can do anything... except the one thing he wants to do. How do I tell him? Does he maybe already know? There's time. He'll grow out of it.
But then it happened last year. My unstoppable teen was talking on the phone to his girlfriend in a tone I hadn't ever heard. Shocked and maybe slightly panicked. Not scared or worried, but angry and confused. I stood outside his door, listening while my heart slowly sank. He was recounting how some kids at school told him rather matter-of-factly that he was going to die by the time he was 30. It was time to get real.
Don't get me wrong... my son has known about his disease since before he even knew what a disease really was. I have been upfront, direct, and completely honest with him. Of course I have put my hopeful, positive spin on it because that is what gets me out of bed and keeps me sane. And it is what will keep him healthy until a cure is found. But it is also what has perpetuated the one lie (or conspicuous omission, if you will) that has to finally be confronted.
He won't die by the time he is 30. He will do more and live longer than most that share that pesky mutated gene, DeltaF508. However... He can't join the Army. Or the Coast Guard. Or, while we're at it, the Peace Corps. And he certainly can't be a firefighter... his lungs would never last.
He has taken the news well. He certainly is mad and finds the situation completely unfair and illogical. But slowly, he has grown to accept it. He's started to look into other careers... trying to reshape his dream. He still brings it up, the unfairness of it all. And all I can do is agree and tell him what a great policeman he will be. Or teacher. Or doctor. He can be anything he wants to be. Almost.