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Eight days after Jack's injury, Max is asked to sit on the Benilde bench when Jack's jayvee team returns to the ice for its first game since he went down. Mike, who plans to stay at the hospital, wants Leslie to be there, for Max.
"I don't think I can," she tells him. "I don't think I can handle it."
But she goes. All eyes are on her. Composed and eloquent, she talks to reporters about enforcing the rules to make the game safe. That is outside.
Inside, she says, "I can't stop trembling." In Jack's hospital room she steadies her hand to trim his toenails. Standing close to her son's head is a 69-year-old Ph.D. sports physiologist and retired math teacher named Jack Blatherwick. He worked closely with Jack in off-season training and at Benilde. He massages Jack's hand, then notices his face is sweating. Below the C5 vertebra, Jack's autoregulatory system no longer works, so his body doesn't know when he is overheating. Blatherwick lays ice packs along Jack's torso and legs. Every few seconds, as he and Blatherwick talk, his eyes roll backward. According to Jack's physical therapist, this is either because he is tired, or because his body wants to move. With his head in the halo and movement gone below his elbows, his eyes are a go-to stress reliever. So is his ability to talk about hockey.
"My favorite player is Datsyuk," Jack tells me. "Pavel Datsyuk [of the Red Wings]. I love his style. His hands are amazing. That's why I am number 13.... Or that's why I was number 13." He chortles, like he just got himself good.
"You're still number 13, buddy," I tell him.
"The whole world is number 13," says Blatherwick. Now Leslie smiles. She tries to be strong, but it is a challenge. Before the operation to repair his shattered vertebrae, Leslie recalls, Jack asked the neurosurgeon two questions.
"Am I going to walk again?"
The doctor said, "No."
"Am I going to skate again?"