I knew this day was coming eventually. I blogged about it. I pondered its meaning. I wondered, silently and aloud, how I would deal with it. Could I keep busy and not spend any time thinking about it?
The answer is: I have no answer. I know I should stay away from social media right now, as everyone that Micah knew, everyone that he played hockey with and against, posts their “last first day of high school” pictures. I watch as the posts scroll by with kids Micah played hockey against getting ready to go spend their year billeting (playing in another state, living with a host family) in a faraway city.
It’s as if Micah is reaching out to me, saying, “Do you miss me, Dad?” Every turn over the past couple days puts me face-to-face with a picture of my son. I spent a little time yesterday getting our movie room ready for a get-together, hanging our movie posters on the walls. I was almost in tears putting up the DOGMA poster over the table with our family photos. “Moving aside” pictures of Micah so I could put the poster on the wall, I had lots of time to look at those pictures. I’ve had a few occasions in the past 48 hours to write our address: 3706 – the significance of that number never diminishes. I grabbed a t-shirt out of my closet this morning, just randomly–and it was my “37” shirt.
I read about the Arizona Coyotes helping build a DEK hockey rink in El Mirage (in the far northwest corner of the Phoenix area) and my mind drifted…what if I could talk the Coyotes into building a DEK or roller hockey surface right near our house? What if I could have it painted with a “37” in the crease? What if I could have it named Micah Memorial Park? Or am I simply asking for future emotional trouble seeing a roller hockey rink named IN MEMORY of Micah? More questions without answers.
Have you ever wanted to do something so badly–but knew that what you wanted could never happen? Once upon a time, I’d dream of us buying a new house…or building a state-of-the-art computer…or owning a luxury car (something over $25,000)… But today, I just want to talk to and hold my son. I want to take him to the rink and watch him stand on his head in the net. I want to hear him rehearsing for a concert. I want to hear the duet between Micah and Avi that never got the chance to happen.
I want to see him smile. I want to watch him act plain silly. I want to roll back the hands of time and stop him, save him…but I can’t. I can only replay the events of that night and following day endlessly in my head. No matter how, no matter what angle, no matter where the memories start, the end result never changes.
Hockey season is about to start–the first hockey season since 2006 that I am not involved with any youth hockey programs. This was largely (almost entirely) my choice. I’ve recently read about a couple situations in Arizona youth hockey that remind me of some of the reasons I wanted to get away from youth hockey. Politics. Pandering. The “Old Guard” insulating itself from those with new ideas, those that believe in accountability–even for the “Old Guard.” Conflicts of interest.
I found myself talking to an old friend, the father of one of Micah’s long-time teammates and friends. The conversation was initially refreshing. It had been a while since anyone asked my opinion about a youth hockey issue. I always kind of liked the “general manager” aspect of being a youth hockey team manager for an older group of kids. Eventually though, the topic of goaltending came up…and the comment went from silent to heard: “I wish Micah was still here to play for us.” I wish Micah was still here to make the choice–regardless of whether that choice would have been to play with his former teammates, or to travel out of state to billet and play, or even to completely give up the sport and focus on music and theatre–or whatever his interests require.
What will I do with all of this now? I’ll be part of a conference call tonight for the state inline hockey Board. I’ll shed more tears. I’ll move forward while somehow remaining still in this place of contemplation.