Some days zig when you think they’ll zag.
Tuesday was such a day. If you’d told me I’d cry some of my happiest and saddest tears in the same day – some in the same hour – I’d have, well, been eager to see how. I’d have never guessed. It began with a soccer match, on a senior day.
It ended with tears in silence as I learned all I could about a shooting at my alma mater.
In between, the day’s events intertwined and intersected. This is what I meant by my Y post yesterday. Time spent away from writing is time spent creating the writing through living. I can’t say it was a bad day and I can’t say it was a good one, either.
It was a day, and really, we get a lot of those, don’t we?
I’ll start with a reminder. Hayden hasn’t played this season. She had ACL reconstructive surgery in January. She’ll return in the fall to play at Piedmont International University, not far from here. She had no idea senior day would include her too.
Run with me
As kickoff approached, I texted Hayden – are you close?
As she walked to the field minutes before kickoff, Sara ran to her. You’re supposed to run with me, Sara said. I don’t know why, but do it! So they ran together, and her teammates were amazed she can run now on her knee. But she made it.
Koyana handed Hayden a jersey – her familiar No. 9.
Hayden figured out we were sending her on for kickoff ceremoniously. Hayden, so stoic she makes Stonehenge look like a pile of oversized marshmallows, began to cry. Every phone on the sideline recorded her in her element, center midfield.
Hayden kicked the ball out of bounds and came off the pitch to smiles and tears and a round of hugs that included many smiles and tears in itself.
Senior days are like that. Memories. For Madison, her teammates tried to pass to her for the final goal. Ultimately, her friend, Vivian, who grew so much with Madison on the team, scored the final goal. She was overcome with tears. And she wasn’t alone.
I love this part of soccer, the sweet emotions that come from it.
Impossible to explain
There’s another side to soccer. And to life. Some of it – most of it – is impossible to explain. Even if you could, what’s the point? The universe moves and shakes, and as sunlight bathes a field on one end, it sheds light on sorrow on another.
Six minutes after more happy tears, after seniors got flowers and speeches at midfield, we found ourselves crying tears of another kind.
That’s when Remmi – Hayden’s replacement at center midfield – collapsed to the grass.
The ref flippantly called me over and made a popping noise, pointing to his knee. Remmi had been there before. This would be her second knee dislocation. I knelt with her and a mom called 911. I’m on hold with 911 she said, and we didn’t know exactly why until later.
The girls knelt by their teammate as we waited for medics, joking that hopefully a really hot medic would arrive and carry Remmi off the field.
This happened around 5:40. That moment, 911 dispatchers were busy fielding calls on a shooting at UNC Charlotte, my school. After a lengthy delay and more tears of goodbye, we took home a 5-2 victory. And got home to hear about the incident north of us.
One student lost his life-saving others. A big kid, with a big heart. A goalkeeper, in fact. Who went to the high school a mile from where Madison – also a goalkeeper – had her first college home. He had nowhere to go in a classroom riddled with bullets.
In the national news
He lunged at the attacker and kept the killing from spreading. Only, he paid with his life.
It’s eerie to see your school in the national news. No, I didn’t take a political stance either way. Even before I knew, even when the sadness of the day centered around an injured player, I told the ref, whatever you want to do with the rest of the game is fine with me.
This game matters so little to me right now.
Senior day is a a final chapter. It’s loaded with memories. And it contained so many. Remmi’s sense of humor in the midst of pain. The girls’ rally cry to win one (and the next one!) in her honor. The sobering effect it has on both teams to see this unfold.
Also, to see an opponent run onto the field to put their tent over Remmi as she was tended to.
There’s no way I can protect Hayden from an injury no more than I can Remmi, or anyone else. I can coach full-heartedly, love that way, too. And feel pain with my whole heart as the ambulance pulls away – from our field, and from my college.
But I also need to turn around, not stifle my tears, and rally the girls still there to play. I need to let them see my pain but also my hope, and see it in them, too. We’re tired. We’re beat up. We’re at a loss to explain some of the things in this world around us.
But ultimately, nothing circumstances can throw our way is any match for love.
Even when it zags when you’re hoping it will zig.
A to Z Challenge:
Y is for yippee! 👩🎨