“Accidents will happen in the best regulated families.” (John Dos Passos)
So we finally knew where my son was headed for the next two years. I even made the mistake of thinking that was all the excitement we were going to have for at least the next…oh I don’t know…two to three months until my son departed for his mission. But it turns out, I was wrong. The unexpected life!
Not three days later, at the final BYU hockey game of the season, in the last six minutes of the game, my son went down. And he didn’t get up. I KNEW instantly something was wrong. But it seemed like everyone else was operating in slow motion! WARNING: Here comes the part where I look like the lunatic hockey mom that, apparently, I am.
I ran down to the box where his coach was standing. I tapped him on the shoulder, he calmly looked at me and I said, “My son is hurt! You need to send someone to help him, now! He’s not up because he can’t get up!” Slowly some teammates and the refs began heading over. (Meanwhile, I am in total panic mode. Trying every which way to figure out how to get down to the ice. I was such a maniac, I probably would have gone right on to the ice if I’d been able to figure out how—or if I’d thought I had the strength to climb over the glass wall dividing the crowd from the players!)
I finally saw a door that led to the ice but the opposing team’s fans were in the way. And they wouldn’t move. They couldn’t, they were too busy taunting my son, yelling things like, “What’s a matter, sissy? Get up off the ice, you big baby!” and other lovely comments to a college athlete, injured. (By the way, WHO does that? WHO EVER sees someone hurt and stands there and taunts them?) So there I am, in a total panic over a son who rises up after everything; I knew something was really wrong for him to lay there, unmoving. I knew he was supposed to be heading to Spain in a few months but was now hurt. I see a door and I can’t get to it. People are yelling terrible things to the young man down. And I lost it.
I’ve never been the type of person to confront people, especially strangers. I can think of two times in my entire life I’ve said something: once in the wake of the Ponzi scheme revelations, to a neighbor I caught photographing my three year old as he played outside as well as whatever he could capture on film through our open garage door and I asked, “What are you doing?” (I tell you, I don’t confront people!) And another time when someone was rude to my oldest son when he was a boy scout.
I was like a completely different person that night. I don’t know what happened! Total Jekyll and Hyde. Not my finest moment! I turned to the most vocal, nastiest of the group blocking my path and said something like, “Shut your mouth! (I’ve never told someone to shut up, I don’t allow my children to either. It’s the “s” word at our house!) Hockey is rough and players DO occasionally get hurt! If you had half the guts or any of the talent that player has, you’d be out there on the ice playing, yourself, rather than standing there like an idiot, ridiculing an injured human being! Shut up!” And with that, I pushed my way through the crowd and got to the door that led to the ice.
Only the door was blocked by six college men, student fans of the opposing team, who were calling their share of taunts and jeers as well. I looked behind me and saw my two youngest sons, both standing there with tears streaming down their faces, worried to death about their brother who still hadn’t gotten up from the ice. I wanted to deck someone. For a brief instant, I may have even considered it—but quickly decided a mother in jail for assault and a father in prison for a Ponzi scheme would not be a good thing for my younger children. Lol. So, instead, I lost it (verbally) again. I turned to the student standing closest to me and said, “Shut up! (I can’t believe it! The dreaded “s” word again!) What do you think you are doing? Do you see those two little boys standing there with tears streaming down their checks because of the things you and others are saying about their brother? And while you’re at it, you better tell your friends to quiet down, too, or I will!”
That poor young man. He looked at me, stunned, and stammered, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say anything,” and he turned to his group of friends, told them all to stop yelling and they did! I was ready to pounce (although I refrained!) but maybe they could see that; I felt like a lion in a cage, pacing, every instinct on high alert. I have to give those young men credit. Not only did they quiet down, when my son came off the ice through the door next to them, that group of young men clapped for him, offered words of encouragement and acted completely differently than they had prior to our little conversation!
My son looked at me and said, “My ankle’s broken.” Never good words to hear, especially on a holiday weekend; when you’re a college student traipsing around on a big college campus; and when you’re supposed to be leaving the country for two years in just a few months. I followed him in to the locker room. My son had played ice hockey almost his entire childhood without a single injury, despite the fact that many teammates broke legs and other bones every year. I guess it was our turn, but it couldn’t have happened at a more inconvenient time. (But really, is there ever a convenient time for an injury?)
“What’s done is done.” (William Shakespeare)