Astute readers of the blog may remember this past weekend was a busy one for us: soccer games and football games, all carrying important playoff and championship potential. Yeah, well. I told someone last night that this weekend was an important lesson for us in learning the discipline of losing with grace and humility. Both can be difficult, losing well and winning well, but losing is certainly the more painful.
It was my oldest son’s last football game and they lost in spectacular fashion. There’s the rub with the playoff distinction: it is destined to end badly for all but one. No one expects to lose with such flamboyance, however, making a tough night all the tougher for this senior class who has played season-long with heart and determination.
I was my proud of my son Friday night as I watched him walk out of the locker room, face streaked with tears, heading straight for his daddy, hugging him and thanking him. “For everything,” he said. I may have wept some too; who could not? This was a moment not about football or wins or losses but about change, about transition, about growing up, about things that will no longer be. This, this thing he loved, this thing he was, this part of our lives, it’s over.
I watched him thank his first football coach from back in sixth grade. He told me later of how he also attempted to challenge and encourage the underclassmen. “Be leaders,” he admonished them. “Step up. It’s your turn now.” I hope, I pray, that he knows that this is part of his legacy. Not long field goals or number of receptions nor even touchdowns; none of those matter, really, in the long run. It’s people. It’s relationships. It’s walking the walk. It’s living a life worthy of the call of Christ.
“I can’t believe it’s over.” A familiar refrain, from senior football player and senior mom alike. “It went so fast.” “Time flies.” Oh, yes, yes, it does, far faster than I knew. Wasn’t it only yesterday that I made him run laps around the backyard to burn off some excess energy? And, now, I watch him close a chapter on his life with a gracious humility. Parenting is many things, bittersweet among them.
Despite my melodrama here, life as we know it is not completely over. Not by a long shot. We have basketball season and soccer season and the flurry of graduation and its accompanying pomp and ceremony, not to mention the various and sundry (and yet unknown) preparations for college. Much to celebrate. Much to plan for. Much to anticipate. Much to be thankful for. Much to revel in. We do not dwell on what was in some sort of morbid depression, but we do pause to reflect and realize that our boy is growing up. This bittersweet sadness is merely a reflection of the joy we have known. So much joy! To God be the glory!