I have concluded that life will sometimes kick you square in face, and it will keep moving like you don’t matter. I have also concluded that my first conclusion is just what it feels like, that’s not really the case.
On Tuesday evening (November 1st), our JV and Varsity girls’ basketball team had a scrimmage at the school I teach and coach at. After both were finished, I was walking to the coaches office to grab my stuff to head home. I passed one of my freshman players, and simply said, “Goodnight, Kay!” She didn’t respond. With a straight face, shoulders slouched, eyes looking just a few feet in front of her, she kept walking. So I laughingly said, “Hey, Kay, I like you better when you smile! I’ll see you tomorrow.” Again, she completely ignored me.
Not willing to let her walk away unhappy, I turned around and jogged up to her. I had to ask her what was on her mind a couple of times before she gave me anything. After 10-15 seconds of simply shaking her head, she covered her face and broke down crying. We quickly made our way to the athletic hallway where we had a short, perspective-correcting conversation.
I reiterated that she could talk to us, and we would help any way we could. She said, “I just miss my dad!” I replied, “I understand… Well where is your dad?” Responding with a shot of perspective that I couldn’t have possibly prepared for, she said, “I don’t know. He doesn’t want to see me anymore!” Her crying became uncontrollable and I almost immediately regretted asking the question. What do you say to a 14 year old who believes her dad doesn’t want to see her anymore? What words are supposed to fix that situation? It may have been my longest, most uncomfortable moment at the school.
I wish I had a profound, happy ending to this story, but I don’t. All I said is what I really thought. I told her that we (her coaches and teammates) will never be able to take her pain and sadness away, but I told her we loved her, and we were here for her. Our conversation didn't fix the problem. Not even close. But I trust that by letting her know she was appreciated by her team, it might have some positive effect on her.
I promise that I did not write this to ruin your day. I actually wrote this to make it better. Because somebody around you will have a heavy heart or distracted mind, and you get the opportunity to take them from feeling like a 1 to feeling like a 2, or feeling like a 4 to feeling like a 5. Matter of fact, this is our job as members of humanity: seeing the humanity in others and acting accordingly.
Maybe we won’t stop those around us from feeling like it’s a battle of them against the world, but at least we can make them feel like they’re not fighting alone.