Monday, September 16, 2013

Life is good.

Saturday was amazing. It was the first weekend that mother nature had gotten the September memo and put that tiny bite of fall into the morning air. And it was perfect because nothing says "football season" like that kind of weather. The kind you tailgate in or the kind that makes you wince when you see exuberant frat boys gyrating on fifty yard lines with painted chests.

And so. The BHE (aka Coach Harry) headed out with Zachary a bit early and Isaiah and I joined them in time for the game. And I know I already said it but I need to say it again. The weather was just right. Sunny but cool. Blue-blue skies and this gentle breeze that felt like a song brushing across your face. Something about it all felt magical. I'm not sure why but it did.

Isaiah and I set up our lawn chairs and made ourselves comfortable. We were good fans appropriately dressed in the team colors and fully prepared to hoop, holler and okay, just maybe, trash talk a little bit.

Because in football a little bit of trash talking is allowed.  Just nice trash talking.

So yeah. The team bursts through the hand-painted poster and that made me really happy mostly because it's the kind of thing Deanna would have made for Zachary if he asked her. And I remember him once asking why she didn't make him more posters and her saying, "You didn't ask me. Just ask." So after that a monster was created.


Zachary didn't necessarily ask anyone to make a poster but he did ask us to wear orange. He also asked if I'd get shirt made with his number on it so that the world would know he was my son. He liked that gesture last year so decided to "just ask" again. He also "just asked" a lot of people to come to one of his games. Uncles. Friends. Even his school principal. He asked just like his auntie instructed. He sure did.


So at this game on this magical day, some of those people got up early and stood out there in that same soft breeze. They, too, had lawn chairs and even orange on. No, no none had their chest painted but still. It was good to see the support. He was especially excited when his two coaches from last year were standing on the sidelines with those coach-y looking folded arms. His chest poked out further. His face got more determined.

Zachary is mostly a cornerback. Yes. Little Zachary. He gets down low and is unafraid to hit or tackle anyone. And it's super exciting to see once you get over the whole seeing your kid jump on top of someone thing. So yeah, my little blocker was more ready than ever. He was beating his pads with his hands and giving chest bumps. It was on.

So all of us were standing on the sidelines or sitting in our lawn chairs smiling and laughing. The coaches with their coach-y armfolds and Isaiah with his iPad. And that play got called and people started running you could hear the pads clapping together like always. But then, something else happened.

Wait. Huh?

The ball was passed to #3 and he slipped and spun out of that pack. Someone dove at him and he shifted his body sideways and outstretched one hand. And got away. Out. Fast. With people chasing behind him as fast as they could. Faster and faster until finally it was clear. No one was going to catch him. At least not this time.


Now. Picture this. Your first real time running the ball and you make this really dramatic touchdown. But not just with your mom and brother on the sidelines but with your prior coaches who knew you when you were first learning the game and your godfather who held you as a tiny baby when you were dedicated and even some people from your school because you invited them. Imagine all of that and all of them jumping up and down and cheering like crazy in their orange. Then. Envision the best part--your father who happens to be your head coach--losing his mind and being unable to contain his elation.

Can you even get your mind around it?

It was awesome. No. It was more than awesome. It was magical. Really and truly magical.

And you know what? #3 made another touchdown, too. What's even cooler is that his other teammate from last year who was also one of "the little guys" back then scored twice, too. And those coaches from last year who knew them way-back-when were hooping and hollering and jumping up and down. It's so hard to tell through the grills of their helmets but man, oh man were those kids over the moon.

And even though it isn't always about winning and yadda-yadda-yadda, we can all admit that it feels pretty damn good when you do. We talked about how hard those kids and yes, Coach Harry, had worked to get where they were. We shared about how the things he'd learned last year from his other team applied to now and even how running track had strengthened his legs and helped him to run faster. And as we talked about all of those things, I somehow felt less resentful of the time commitment that had gone into all of those things. It was a powerful life lesson of what happens when you just keep working at something until you get better.

Then Isaiah reminded me of one of our "precepts" that we talk about on the way to school each day. These are our "words to live by" that we've been creating and discussing which mostly feels like me talking and him eye-rolling. But, yeah, it turns out that he was listening and reflecting because he said it right then and there.

"The only way to get better at anything is through hard work and not giving up." He recited that  precept and then smiled big and wide. And Zachary looked at him and smiled right back because those words were resonating with him.

After the game, we went to our favorite neighborhood Cuban-Spanish spot for lunch. And the boys were recapping the game and talking about Pokemon cards and, for once, something other than Minecraft. Harry and I were chatting and laughing and intermittently holding hands under the table.

"Good Lord. That was SO exciting, wasn't it?" I said.

"Yeah, man. All the boys did so great. But yeah, I had to keep it together when my son ran into that end zone." Harry shook his head and chuckled to himself. "Man."

That last "man" was quiet. He looked a little wistful in that moment and that's when I knew. I knew that even in the midst of all the magic, we were feeling the exact same way at that moment.

"Yeah." I twisted my mouth sideways and felt my eyes starting to prickle a bit. I squeezed my eyes tight and took a deep breath.

Nobody had to say it. We knew.

There was nobody who would have loved this day more than Deanna. No one. She would have likely been yelling so loud that someone on the other team would have asked to have her removed. And when the second touchdown came? Man, please. They would've had to take her away in handcuffs for going so crazy.

Even the coaches from last year remembered. One of them said, "Damn, you know your sister would have been out here crunk!" And I was super glad that he said "crunk" because that word is slang and funny enough to break up any emotion that came from him not only mentioning but remembering Deanna.

Which reminds me. That same coach who only knew my sister from her fancy posters and big booming voice stood solemnly with all of us in that memorial service for Deanna last year. It remains a gesture that I will never, ever forget for as long as I live.


So the day was magical and beautiful but at the same time bittersweet. And, yes, we all agreed that Deanna was there--she was--and that she gave those boys wings. But still. It did kind of hurt that we didn't get to witness her witnessing it. I think that was the part I was the most bummed about.

But you know? The kids talked about Deanna right out in the open. And they weren't sad or wistful or bummed or any such thing. They were eating their quesadillas and saying things like, "Oh man! Auntie would have been SUPER DUPER loud!" and "Auntie probably would have run all the way into the end zone with you!" And they just laughed and laughed.

Which made us laugh, too.

"It's cool that Zachary is still wearing Auntie's lucky number this year, too," Isaiah said with food in his mouth. "That's giving him some good luck, right mom?"

And I nodded and said, "You might be right, bud."

Then they changed the subject but I just sat there thinking about one of Isaiah's precepts from last week.

"Life is good."

"That's it?" I asked.

"Yes, mom. That's my precept. Life is good."

And once I thought more about this beautiful, magical day and my life with these beautiful, magical people who share and create these beautiful, magical memories together, I understood. Isaiah was right. Those were words to live by.

Life is good.

Joy, pain, sunshine, and rain. . . Life is good. It so very is.


Happy Monday.


  1. Beautiful post..I think that is one of the hardest things. When we lose some sooooo good everything beautiful reminds us of how much we miss them sharing. I know people say they are they there and such and they are but you say...bittersweet. number verification is 3!!!

  2. Congratulations to Zachary for scoring TWICE! That's wonderful.

    I ache for you in the loss of your sister. Another blog had some thoughtful remarks about grief. The blog is at and the comment is
    "A woman named Ren wrote to me recently after reading an earlier essay on 37days: 'I agree with you that the grieving process is a life-long thing. It’s about coming to terms with the new relationship you’ve got with the person. Because death doesn’t end the relationship, it ends a life (there’s an old quote about that…who is it?) and it’s this constant coming to terms with the fact that they aren’t physically there.' "

    I'm not part of your SJGR group, but because of what you have written about Deanna I am much more careful about what I eat, and I'm trying to put more exercise in my life.


  3. Whoa... Can a sista get a warning?!?! LOL! You got me with that one! So proud of Zachy! I'm cheering from Cali!

    Auntie JoLai

  4. One proud Mama and justifiably so! One proud angel sister, too, without a doubt. High five to that little dynamo, Zachary. Hugs all 'round. x0 N2


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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