Welcome back to the final edition of my fall blog series FTSL (From the Sidelines), where I’ve been sharing lessons and inspirations discovered along the sidelines of my boys’ fall sports. Because, truly, life’s lessons can be found both on and off the field for people of all ages.
This week’s lesson? Enjoy the game.
We had two sports running at the same time this past weekend, so I was my oldest son’s solitary family cheering unit at soccer (the rest of the family was at our youngest’s flag football game, since it was his last and we’ve got one more week left of soccer). I cozied up to another family from our team, and had a wonderful time watching, clapping, and yelling cheering. The game was a great one, and with both teams fairly well matched we headed into halftime tied at 0-0. The second half followed suite, and we were just about the four minute mark when our goalie took a ball to the face at close range. Once he managed to (thankfully) get upright, a sub was brought in.
I don’t know about the other parents, but I was sitting on the sideline cheering and yelling encouraging and thinking, “God, just let them hang on for four more minutes!” And I’ve got to tell you, that was a really stressful last four minutes. Every attempt on our goal was a nail biter, every attempt by us on their goal full of gasps and “oh, so close!” ‘s. The other team managed to sneak a goal into our net with only seconds left on the clock. We lined back up, but it was too late. The whistle blew. We’d lost 0-1.
Now, I’d thought of writing about our poor goalie, and maybe how the substitution affected the outcome. But really, the sub played his heart out and I don’t think anyone could blame him for his valiant efforts. No, the bigger lesson from this weekend actually hit me just this evening, as I was debating whether or not to push this post off another week because nothing in my head was quite gelling. But sometimes as a writer, if a story really wants to be told, it shoves its way to the forefront of my mind and demands my attention. Tonight’s message did just that, and caught me completely off guard.
Enjoy the game? Where had that come from?
See, I fretted and stressed and gasped and yelled those last four minutes. But seriously, what was I doing wishing those last four would hurry on by before the other team could score?
Really? I wanted time to hurry? Ah, how foolish a thought that was.
See, there was someone who couldn’t be here this season to cheer from the sidelines. Someone who always loved to come to our sons’ games, through rain or snow and hot or cold. Someone who cheered at the kids and hollered at the refs, just liked the rest of us.
Someone who was stolen from us by cancer last November.
My father-in-law would be getting ready to celebrate another birthday in two weeks, and not a game this season went by when we didn’t feel an ache in our chests triggered by his absence. Terry was a wonderful husband, a terrific dad, an amazing father-in-law, and one of the best grandpas around. And while I know he’s been watching the games from a seat with a much better view than any of us mere mortals had this season, it’s still been tough to wear a smile some mornings as we headed out to the playing fields, knowing he wouldn’t be there and how much it still hurts to have him gone.
But we would be doing him a tragic disservice if we didn’t sit back and enjoy every game his grandchildren have. If we didn’t savor every minute, laugh at every opportunity, cheer on every player (and maybe even the refs, too). Our time on this earth is finite—why waste a minute of it hoping that time will hurry up in the hopes of avoiding an outcome we may not like?
Life is a gift, the greatest one of all–let’s try to embrace what’s been given to us. To get out there and play the game. To come prepared for whatever life may bring. To look at those around us as competitors, not enemies. To stop saying “I can’t”. To know that there is never any shame in asking. To learn to weigh the risks we take versus the consequences they may bring. To be somebody’s cheerleader. And above all else, to ENJOY THE GAME.
It’s been a terrific season, everyone. Thanks so much for joining me and my views From The SideLines.