Have you ever had those moments where there are so many things swirling around your head that you get dizzy or almost a sense of motion sickness?  Yes, I’ve visited that place just this past week…

You get to a certain point where, whether with good, bad or indifferent ideas and tasks, the kettle gets filled up and starts to overflow.  All those things you do to keep busy, to try and give your life added purpose, overwhelm you to the point of not being sure what your purpose truly is.

The solution seems easy–trim back a couple things, cut out things that aren’t necessary, breathe.  That is, until you start cataloging all the things you do, and–like your children, you can’t decide which one you love more, which one is more important to you, which ones you will miss less.  Do I draw the line at things that people pay me for?  Does not getting paid make certain duties less important?

See, at my core, I think one of my flaws is this internal notion that if I don’t do something, it simply won’t get done.  Like some of the best misconceptions, this is frequently based in at least a scintilla of evidence: times before where I stepped in to do something because no one else seemed willing to do it.  Some of the very jobs and duties I’m struggling with now began that way: a task is thrown out to a crowd, and seemingly everyone but me takes three large steps backward to avoid being ensnared by the new responsibility.  Like Ado Annie in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma,” I Cain’t Say No.

Even once I’ve said yes and undertaken the duties of a position, and I’m given the ability to draw a line in the sand and say, “This isn’t my responsibility–you need to talk to S0-And-So,” I still answer the question and try to solve the problem.  I’ve told people that I know I just need to work on being a bit meaner–a bit less helpful, but I don’t think that’s really in my nature.  So–instead of being able to focus more on one or two tasks, I invite four more…

And I do truly mean that it doesn’t matter whether I’m talking about a good thing or a bad thing.  This week, for example, I have been presented with two very good, very exciting possibilities that directly conflict not only with each other, but with other duties that I’ve already tentatively agreed to cover.  Obviously, if one of these other possibilities pans out, it will win the day–and the season–and will force some changes to my calendar.  But what changes?  What will have to go?  What can I keep doing simultaneously?  To further complicate matters, another option presented itself in between the first two.  Not as much of a direct conflict, but still something that will be calling for my hard-to-come-by time…

Choices.  Options.  No right answers, but no wrong answers either.  All of this happening in the midst of my ongoing struggles with handling my grief.  All of this overwhelming me to the point of taking on water and watching the vessel of my sanity begin to capsize.  Watching the vision of my strength dim in the pale evening light.  Even Superman had his limits…his Doomsday…his Darkseid…

In trying to find a path out, I began to think about the WHY.  Why was I doing all these things?  Why, as I know some people have asked silently, quietly or not so quietly, am I still doing all these things for youth hockey–both ice and inline–when my connection to hockey was severed just over seven months ago when Micah died?  My daughter isn’t taking up the sport.  My wife hasn’t suddenly become more interested in the sport since my son’s passing.  I don’t have to be at the rink, in the locker room, at the league committee meeting–none of this affects me personally any longer.  I’m not fighting for Micah–now I’m fighting for his memory.  I’m not there to make sure he gets a fair shake–now I’m there to make sure that all the other kids that didn’t skate out of the womb with a Tier contract or a bulging bank account have a chance to play and enjoy the wonderful sport that is hockey.  I’m not at the league committee meetings to make sure Micah gets a favorable schedule that doesn’t conflict with his other responsibilities–now I’m there to make sure that even the weakest team, the youngest players, and the organizations with the least windpower get a chance to enjoy the sport, to develop into better players, better young men and women.

But if I don’t do this–someone else will, right?  Right?  When I hear the rumblings, read the emails, talk to the parents–and realize that too many people involved in youth hockey are only interested in THEIR child, THEIR organization, THEIR own self-interests, I fear for those without a voice, without a checkbook that allows them to get peoples’ attention.  No–it’s not a bad thing to be interested in your kid and his or her organization, but without people driven for the greater good of all kids playing the sport, it all devolves into bitter rivalries, building your program by poaching kids from others, and ignoring the fact that hockey works, thrives and grows when all our kids get opportunities, not just the super elite, super wealthy, or super lucky to be in the right place at the right time.  This isn’t the lottery or a Hollywood audition, this is HOCKEY.

So, a choice is imminent.  At least I’ve been able to sort out that much–I need to make a choice, as painful as it might be.  What would Micah think?  Micah would want me to do what makes me happy–but also what won’t drive me into a mental health institution for an extended stay.  I don’t talk about this much, but Micah was also looking at his transition time quickly approaching.  Sure, my son was a good goalie–even at times a great youth goalie–but his heart was looking in other directions…and I think he might have even pushed me to not do as much with hockey any longer, and bring my support to his other loves and interests instead…

Meanwhile, I continue to keenly feel Micah’s loss.  I’ve started to notice that being busy doesn’t push those feelings down or away any longer.  No–being at the rink does not haunt me as much, but his room…his pictures…thinking about all the things he’s missing–that I am missing him doing, and will miss him doing.

I sat this morning in our loft area, on the floor in front of his Xbox.  Sitting there was his gaming headset…I picked it up and looked at it.  This was so much a part of Micah’s free time.  All those afternoons and evenings–and late nights, telling Micah that he needed to tone down his language or his volume, sitting on the Xbox and the headset, talking to all his friends around the country as he played COD or Battlefront or Minecraft–all on the headset I held in my hands.  I could feel his hair on the headband.  I could hear his voice on the microphone.  And now that headset sits on the floor, disconnected, in front of the Xbox and monitor.  His games sit on the shelf, unplayed for months.  His gamertag sitting alone…probably with some of his more distant Xbox friends not even knowing the reason why they haven’t seen his avatar online since early January.  I hated that Xbox for all the time it took from Micah, all the distractions it created from Micah doing his homework and studying…but now there it sits, a reminder of a happy Micah with his friends.  A reminder of something else I have lost…

On Thursday night, one of the loving hockey moms we know met me at the rink to give me a labor of love–she has spent time over the last several months sewing a quilt made from Micah’s old shirts.  Actually, this was the third and final quilt–the first two already delivered for Cynthia and Avi…the final one was for me.  As I looked at the front of the quilt and saw his CVHS Choir shirt, his art-deco goalie shirt, the printed Warblers shirt-and-tie t-shirt from that Glee! Live concert years ago in Los Angeles, the Rich Harden #40 Cubs shirsey that he wore regularly–despite having no great love of baseball except what little he shared with me of the Cubs.  I had to fight hard to hold back the tears–but wait.  Why was I holding back tears?  Why can’t I just let them go?  Why did I feel so lost and confused?  Why do I still feel that way now?

I need to make some choices.  Soon.

 

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