Saturday, September 23, 2006

Life meets football

What a contrast today. For days I have been waiting for a painful call and today I got it.
I've had a friend since I was 5 years old. We met on the first day of kindergarten. We grew up together. We cried over boys. Laughed over everything. We spent thousands of hours together. Her family was my family. I cannot count the talks with her mom and dad. The hours spent in the car with them. Trips to the grocery school. Rides to school. Nights spent over. It all blurs past me tonight.
This afternoon her dad went ahead of us to heaven. Even though I have been expecting the phone call for days, when it came I was still devastated. I flash back to 9 years old riding in the backseat of their car listening to him talk. Watching movies at their house. The time I got SO muddy at their house that I had to take a bath before leaving. Walks and talks, advice - love.
The last time I saw him he was in the hospital. And he brightened when he saw me walk in the room. He held out his hand to me. And I just stood there and held it. I got to tell him that I loved him. I knew he probably knew it... but I needed to say it.
So today, on the 25th row, seat 23 on the 35th yard line - Section 103 of Razorback Stadium, I got the call I was dreading.
The contrast is so stark, because I was sitting in the middle of a cheering crowd, looking up at the sky in tears. The game went on as usual. We cheered our team. And I sat in the midst of the crowd and remembered football games in high school, band concerts, dances and a wedding. Some people are so strong and such a force in your life that you don't even realize it until they are gone. And it really still doesn't seem real.
Our team won, barely, in two overtimes. It was a rollercoaster game and a rollercoaster afternoon. Football is not life and death. Teams win and loose every week. Life goes on.
Today will forever be tagged for me as one of my best college football days. And it is the day that earth got a little less satisfying and heaven that much more appealing.
I love you Mr. Anderson. See you there!