Last Sunday, the Penn State men’s soccer team was ready to open its Big Ten season against Maryland. As the fans arrived at Jeffrey Field, my husband and daughter and I lined up beneath the bleachers along with our late son Mack’s soccer team, the Celtics. We were there to celebrate the annual Mack Brady Match.
We laughed with the boys as they jostled each other in line, teasing one another about their varying heights. It has been four years and nine months since Mack was their goalkeeper. It is poignant to be with them, to see how they have grown. They are still playful and yet strong and getting taller all the time. I see Mack in them. Moments of wistfulness wash over me and I hear myself asking Mack: How tall would you be now? Would you still be the keeper? Would you still eat banana and Nutella sandwiches for lunch before a match?
Questions without answers, I know. But, I have learned over the years since Mack died that I cannot stay in the rooms of my mind I call ‘the what ifs.’ I can visit them, feel them, sit in them, cry in them. Then, I slowly back out and close the door so that I can turn and celebrate all that is wonderful in life: loving family, lasting friendships, fall days, exciting sport, warm coffee and love that never dies.
This column is coordinated by www.ltlwys.org whose mission is to create educational and conversational opportunities for meaningful intergenerational exchanges on loss, grief, growth and transformation.