Number seven…

My son knows that if he’s hurt on the ice…he’s to make his way to the bench.  I know…if he stays down…it’s bad.

He’s never stayed down…until Sunday.

Hit from behind during a pileup in the crease and dropped to his knees…another child falling onto him from the front. Momentarily pretzel shaped…his skate underneath him hitting the back of his helmet…followed by a scream. He laid there. For the first time in eight years of hockey…he was helped off the ice with tears streaming from his eyes. The muscle above his knee was stretched and pained…ice and ibuprofen…fine enough to play again the next day.

But for the moment…my heart stopped.

I met a man who lost his son and wife in a horrific car crash over twenty years ago. He survived as did his youngest son. He with 21 broken bones…his young boy in a hospital nearby with a broken back. The bones nothing to the pain in their hearts. With years of healing ahead of them, the story is one of great courage, unbelievable pain…and love. Overcoming great obstacles…to live again.

I feel honoured to know this family’s story…and alter the way I think because of it.

Folks always say that when a parent loses a child they live for the ones that remain until finally reaching a point of letting themselves move forward. I applaud those who can hold onto the wonderful memories of someone they’ve lost… and make this world a better place by telling their story and finding the strength to be happy again.

We raise our children fighting against all life throws at them. Trying hard to make them good and caring people in this world. We battle against drugs and alcohol…peer pressures and fears. We encourage them through sports, music, various activities and their education…hoping we’re doing it right. We teach them to respect, to be confident and kind…to reach for the stars. We teach them to stand up for themselves in this world that so often feels like it’s against them.

Last weekend, while I watched my son lie on the ice for just a moment, and held my breath…a young boy died. Hit by a car in Ontario. Attending his graduating year at Robert Land Academy, a school specializing in helping young men reach their full potential…developing their self confidence and self worth…helping them shine. His life was a bright light for so many who knew him. His parents encouraged him with all life threw his way as good parents do. He was funny and full of energy and while I barely knew him…I remember him. He played with my daughter when they were just small children attending elementary school together. He was the quarterback of Halifax West’s great Warriors…and I’m sure his mom saw him fallen on the field more than once…holding her breath.

We grasp for a connection. Thank God it isn’t us and fear for our children’s futures.

We do our best to raise these wonderful beings but sometimes, no matter what we do, there’s another force working against us. It makes us question what we’re doing but there’s nothing any of us can do to change it.  We can’t stop our children from doing the things they’re passionate about. We do our best to guide them and love them through the challenges of growing up. We hold them tight…tighter when they fall.  But sometimes…there’s nothing we can do to change the path that’s put before us by a greater force than ourselves.

I’m hit from behind…on my knees…praying that I can get through anything that’s put before me. Praying for DJ’s parents, his sister, his family and friends…that they will find the strength to live again knowing that this world was a better place because he was in it.

Just for a little while.

To view DJ MacNeil’s obituary, click on the link.

2 Replies to “Number seven…”

  1. I just heard of this today. It's breaking my heart. Although I never lost a child, I spoke to my very sad mother-in-law this week and I know that this family will always find sadness in this time of year, just as we do. May they hold each other tight and help each other get through the raw pain. -kim