“You should use the 24 hour rule before you write anything,” my son said.
It’s a hockey thing.
When you’re upset or angry…have to speak to the Coach about something that’s bothering you, the rule is…wait 24 hours. Wait for your head to clear…when you can formulate your words without raw emotion.
I can’t formulate my words without raw emotion.
This afternoon, my twitter feed announced the horrible news from every hockey organization, player, parent, coach and scout that I’m friends with or follow.
Sixteen year old Jordan Boyd, on the ice for his very first evaluation day with the Acadie Bathurst Titans, collapsed during a drill and died.
One person after the next tweeted and posted while my mind tried to comprehend the unthinkable. I sent a message to a friend whose son would have played with Jordan at prep school and knowing, from experience, how terribly difficult it is to parent your child through such tragedy…I just wanted to reach out for little it would do.
My heart aches for this young man’s friends and family, for his current and former teammates, for every child that shared ice at a camp with him, for each coach and staff member who spent time with him…for every parent who watched him play…for the entire hockey community.
We follow our children to games and tournaments…the mini sticks in the hall wreaking havoc on the hotel staff as parents drink wine from take away coffee cups. We travel in packs, carpool to practices, stand outside the dressing rooms to pat their backs when they step onto the ice then wrap ourselves in blankets with our Tim Horton’s cups…to watch them play. We’re there when they’re hurt. There when they push themselves. We watch as they succeed, form friendships and bonds, reach their goals, win and lose.
We’re there for them from one rink to the next, one tournament after another where at the end of every season, you hear the same thing repeated time and time again by parents and coaches alike…”I love these kids,” “I love this team,” “This is the best group of young men and women,” “I’m so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”
There’s a family that’s formed every season. A connection. A bond.
We know these kids and as they age…as young as they are…we follow the draft picks and watch the standings absolutely proud of their accomplishments knowing what it took to get there.
We watch them as they strive to be their very best. We know that sparkle in their eye. That smile on their face. That pride in their voice.
This evening, while my twitter feed streams of one post after the next as #JB17 trends and folks are reeling with the news of this young man taken far too soon…right at the very moment he was chasing his dreams…I’m at a total loss for any words that will make any kind of sense.
I look at my own hockey player…knowing how hard he works…knowing the passion and drive it takes to play this sport he adores…being there every step of the way to support him with encouraging words, to open my wallet for one more camp…one more stick, as he works towards something he desperately wants and all I can do is stare at him in the simple realization of how fragile life is and my heart simply breaks.
It could be any one of us.
Our hockey community lost a sweet boy today. A boy who, as I can only imagine, was beyond excited as he was picked in the Q Draft and donned the Titans jersey. Who couldn’t wait to touch the ice this morning for his very first practice. Who worked hard, played hard, loved the game. Whose parents went to multiple tournaments where kids played mini sticks and friendships were formed. Who gasped as skates and sticks were outgrown and broken at tremendous speed with each and every growth spurt. A boy doing exactly what he wanted to be doing with a family behind to encourage him. Who stressed over tryouts and stayed awake late into the night to check what team he’d made. Whose room is filled with hockey memories. Who celebrated each goal and watched his stats. Who wore his jersey with ultimate pride.
A boy who, from everything I’ve read from the people who knew him, played with him and loved him…was truly a wonderful young man.
With a remarkable future before him.
And a hockey family…who will never forget him.