Tears sprung unbidden to my eyes with the effort of biting my lip so I wouldn't moan in public.
"Oh no. Do you want some ice?"
"Sure, actually. Yes. Thank you so much!" I gasped out.
"I'm going to get you some ibuprofen."
"Oh gosh, that's really kind of you, thanks," I replied.
N and L were so sweet to rush over to help me.
Only I would completely bump my foot with a broken toe on the corner of the counter as my 2 year old rushed by, in an effort to avoid him stepping on said foot.
My hands were shaking as I hobbled over to the table with my plate of food. Sinking into the chair, I took a deep, cleansing breath.
"Darlin', how're you doing?" J asked, with a serious look on his face.
"I'm fine. I'll be fine, look, I'm eating," I mumbled back at him. He'd noticed my hands, trembling.
"Your blood sugar is low because of the pain and adrenaline, isn't it?" he murmured, his whiskey colored eyes peering down into my face.
"Yes," I conceded. Shoving a bite of vegetable sushi into my mouth, I began to try to focus on the salty, crunchy and creamy mix, instead of the throbbing tingle in my foot.
" 'CADO. Want more 'cado, peas!" My youngest implored me, his big brown eyes melting into mine, as his chubby little hands tried to slide my plate out from under my fingers.
"Okay Boo, hang on, I'll give you the whole top of this roll -- see? All avocado."
" 'Tanks Mama," he beamed at me.
"You're welcome," I said grinning back at him.
"Hey Mom, I'd like some chips please," S said politely, glancing longingly at the counter where the chips and salsa had been set out.
"I'll get it," said J.
"What do you think guys," I asked, "is this a tasty lunch?"
"YES!" was the unanimous reply. The boys were flushed and happy, though moments ago they had been shivering with delight, or perhaps from being too cold in the pool as the breeze picked up, and the rain began to roll in.
I fielded several well-intentioned questions about why I wasn't wearing an immobilizing boot; why I hadn't brought crutches with me, my answers all boiling down to the basic reason that I'm stubborn and I thought my foot would cramp in a boot, and that my gait was close to normal as long as I was careful with the way I put weight on my foot, and a boot would change that.
As for the crutches, they bruised my hands and my ribs, and as far as I was concerned they were simply replacing one uncomfortable inconvenience for another.
We finished our lunch and went upstairs to warm up, dry off, and pet L, N and J's dog Rey.
We read books and the kids played. We ate dairy free ice-cream, and I forgot about my foot for a while, as I was watching the little ones interact.
These summer days go by so fast; August is just around the corner, and before we realize it, it will be fall again -- my favourite time of year, but this year, very bittersweet.
My youngest will be starting school with his big brother, and for the first time in what feels longer than five brief years, I'm going to have days where I don't have my little shadows in small and smaller. In fact, they're more medium and small, going on big and bigger.
Oh, my heart.