Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ACL Diary: Scars Can Be Beautiful

Willow sat for senior portraits a couple weeks ago. Since she was born in Wisconsin, spends summers in the woods, and has every intention of going to school in this state after she graduates, the property surrounding our Northwoods home was the ideal setting for her session.

Kudos to Lauren Kerwin of Rose:Life Photography for capturing all the beauty (of both Willow and the woods) with her camera.

Lauren shot hundreds of photos with multiple outfit changes, and provided a USB drive with our choices. Frankly, there are far too many from which to choose. She narrowed it down to her top 25, most of which were on our list too.

Finally, I believe I've found my favorite. Aside from Willow's cute smile, twinkling blue eyes and the wind gently blowing her beautiful blonde tresses, I like that it shows her ACL surgical scar(s) on her right knee.

Willow Gayle Cozzens at Sandy Point
Without question, Willow's ACL injury, surgery and recovery played a huge role in her life thus far. I think it's fair to say she has made a complete recovery; however, the experience definitely changed her. For example, I don't think she defines herself first and foremost as a soccer player any longer.

She still plays, still loves the game, still plans to attend camp at UW Madison next month. Yet when it comes to her future, her main focus is now on academics. And the results of this focus should, God willing, enable her to get into most any school she chooses to attend.

Willow has not let her injury or her scars define her. She has risen above this brief setback and used this episode in her life as a learning experience. I believe it has made her an even stronger and more formidable young woman. She's shown us that not much is going to get in her way.

So, for those of you who are worried or concerned about the scars after ACL replacement surgery, understand that wounds do heal. And I think it's a fair assumption to say that Willow's scars are NOT the first thing anyone notices when looking at her.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pencil Marks On the Wall

It’s an almanac of height, and significant to a very small number of people. It’s called a “height wall,” and I’ll bet you have one in your home.

Height walls where we periodically record the growth of our children from the time they can stand until the time their growth plates close.

Where is your’s?

Our height wall is in our Wisconsin home, the place where our children were born. It’s a vertical four-inch, drywall-covered support beam separating the kitchen—built in the 1980s—from the original part of the home, which was built around 1930.

We return to this lake home from Tucson every spring, and it therefore seems the logical place to mark growth each year. It’s a smudgy, dirty wall that only we appreciate. Pencil hash-marks are in place for not only our daughters, but also for several family members (and close family friends), who regularly visit us. There’s no real system for measurement or marking the heights and it’s only been vandalized once, and that was in July of 2003, when Uncle Todd labeled himself “No. 1, IL DUCE.”

Todd Cozzens continues as our tallest family member, and Cinco, yes, our long-haired pet Chihuahua, our shortest. Our most cherished measurement is of our niece, Stephanie, who in 1998 stood a glorious 5’-11” tall. It may have been her last measurement as she passed away in 2002.

2012 marks the year our elder daughter, Willow, has shown no annual growth in one year. We were informed her growth plates had closed back in April, 2011 when she had x-rays just after tearing the ACL in her right knee. So, she has made her mark on the world at 5’ 9” tall. “Too tall,” if you ask her. But what does she know?

Camille, on the other hand, at 14-going-on-15, managed to add another inch to her height during her freshman year. A volleyball player currently playing middle position, she was the tallest girl on her club team—however, she’ll still need to add a couple more inches to maintain that tall-girl status. She, too, believes she is tall enough.

Neither of my daughters understands what it feels like when at some point in middle age, one no longer reaches the heights of youth. That said, I’m letting my hash-mark stand at 5’-10”.