Today was Bethany's first basketball game of the season. She's a starter on the junior high team, and is the tallest girl on the team, at about 5'10" tall. Last year at this time, she was probably about 5'6". She has really shot up in recent months, and takes great pride in the fact that she is now taller than me.
I missed Bethany's first game last season, because Hannah was inpatient at Arkansas Children's Hospital and I was staying there with her. She was hospitalized with fever neutropenia, which is basically extremely low blood counts accompanied by fever, leaving her with little to no immunity against infection. We actually spent about three weeks in the hospital last November, just trying to get those blood counts up. Brad and Bethany did come to visit us that evening, though, and brought a DVD of the game with them. We watched it on the TV in her room...and Hannah enjoyed it as if she were watching it live.
Hannah was her sister's biggest fan, and she hated missing her games. Even when she was not hospitalized, she got to go to very few games because her immunity was so low...she could not be around crowds. One of Hannah's last public outings (other than to the hospital or our local clinic) was to one of Bethany's games in late January. She did not feel good...that was obvious to me, because she wore an old, ill-fitting T-shirt...something she would never have normally worn to a school activity...she liked to dress "cute". We had to sit apart from the main crowd because of her ongoing immunity issues. Her friends could come up and speak to her, but had to keep their distance. A friend of ours took pictures of our family watching the game from across the gym, and when I looked at those pictures later, I was startled by how sick she looked. Being with her all the time, we didn't really see all the changes that were going on, but it sure does show up in the few pictures we have of that time. Her face was swollen from steroids, her eyes deviated from their normal position, and of course, she was wearing her wig. But she sat there at that game, ate a frito chili pie (her favorite concession stand food) and clapped and cheered for her sister all the way through it.
I'm looking forward to basketball season this year. I'm looking forward to being able to enjoy watching Bethany play, and not be worried that she's feeling neglected because her mom is not able to be there. I will miss sitting beside Hannah and hearing her yell encouragement to her sister. I may just have to get me a frito chili pie.
Oh, and the Junior Lady Panthers won this afternoon...hopefully a sign of good things to come!