From the moment I heard of the bus crash, I’ve obsessively read everything I can about the Humboldt Broncos as if feeling everything I can feel and knowing everything I can know will somehow make a difference.
It’s not helping.
My blogger friend Jennifer at Simple Local Life, wrote a fabulous post about what you can do to help…one that’s ACTUALLY helpful. Me, I tear up with each thing I read…each time I try to write…every moment I see a parent speaking about their son, each girlfriend saying her final goodbye, every thought and prayer.
I’ve been crying for days.
“I love you” was all I could send to my son as I lay in bed on Saturday morning reading my twitter feed. He replied with “I’m pretty shook about the crash in the Prairies…it’s just like us…on the way to a playoff game…feels close to home.”
While there’s a few days left before he returns from his semester at university, all I want to do is wrap my arms around him and tell him that everything’s going to be ok…but just in wanting to hold my kid a little closer, a wave of guilt crushes through me for the mom’s who can’t.
I recall the first time he got on a team bus to head to a tournament. He was excited. I was anxious. The weather was lousy and I couldn’t help but shudder at the thought of something going wrong.
He texted when he arrived to let me know he was there and here we are, so many years later while he’s playing Junior in Newfoundland and I’m a thousand miles away in Nova Scotia…and he still texts to let me know when he’s safe back home.
Yesterday, I stood in his room. I glanced at the team photos from the early years through high school…framed on the wall and hung with pride. There’s a life-sized Sydney Crosby poster on the back of his door, a game calendar pinned next to his bed, sticks in the corner, a jersey hung on the wall, trophies filling his desk and medals hung from the back of his chair.
As I stood there, hockey memories engulfed me along with an overpowering knowledge that there are rooms just like this…that will forever be empty.
I know these boys that died. Having never met them…not knowing their parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings or friends…not playing against them, not having any connection whatsoever in any way shape or form and yet…I still know them. I’ve heard them giggling in my basement while I’ve ordered more pizza astonished by the amount they can eat. I’ve seen the mischievous look on their faces just as they chirped a player from the opposing team. I’ve heard their voices through my TV as they remotely play their video games while I’m cooking dinner…the laughter and camaraderie evident from the teasing and nicknames they have for one another. I’ve looked for missing dress shoes in hotel rooms lost amid the chip wrappers snuck from the vending machine when the coach wasn’t looking. I’ve fundraised for them, sat in diners with them, bought vehicles with trunks big enough to carry gear for them. I’ve cheered loudly for each and every one of them, high-fived their goals and laughed at their ridiculous “cellies.”
I know the one with the smile that lights up the room, the quiet one who leads by example, the studious one with plans to make a difference in the lives of others, the one who puts in extra hours at the gym and the one who knows every fact about every game ever played…I know the well-dressed one who’s not afraid to wear a bow-tie to the rink and the one who leaves everything he has on the ice every single practice and game even if he’s not the very best player on the team…I know the one who knows exactly what to say to get “his” boys to give it their all when the chips are down. I know these boys. I’ve seen their tears. I’ve been there through the joys of winning and the disappointments of losing. I’ve seen their heads held high and I’ve watched their shoulders drop…I’ve patted them on the back and from time to time, I’ve given them the hug they needed at the exact moment they needed it.
Having never met them…I’ve met others just like them with the same hopes and dreams, the same determination, passion, grit, kindness, strength, focus and resilience.
For the last fifteen years I’ve been this Hockey Mom…witnessing young boys turn into remarkable men. It has been my greatest privilege to be part of their lives. I’ve loved this game, because they made it so.
I placed my son’s stick outside.
I contributed to the fundraiser for Humboldt.
I signed my organ donor card.
I attended the live vigil and, like the team pastor, I wondered where exactly was God when tragedy struck.
I’ve read everything I can get my hands on so I can try to comprehend exactly what’s happened and no matter how hard I try…all I can do is cry.
I knew your son.
And I’m so very sorry for your loss.