This Friday night will be my son’s senior night for football. A night for which he has worked so hard. A night he has earned. A night that will be bitter sweet.
My late husband was my son‘s first football coach. At six years old, my son started playing football and has never looked back. Jared, my late husband, coached our son’s football team until he passed away. Jared was admitted to hospital for six weeks, discharged home on a Thursday, coached our son’s game on Saturday, and then died on Tuesday. To say he was devoted to our son would be an understatement. When Jared came home from the hospital, he was determined that he would go to Steven’s football game. Insistent that he be there. Now I understand. He realized it would be the last game he would be able to coach. I regret that that day, I did not get a picture of just the two of them. Had I known it was going to be the last game Jared would be alive to attend, I absolutely would have taken countless pictures.
This Friday, I will walk our son across the football field as they announce his name. He will be carrying a photo of his dad. Jared will certainly be with us. I would give almost anything to have him there in person. To see the fabulous young man our son has become. To see the amazing athlete that he is. For my late husband to witness just how much all that coaching, love, and devotion has paid off.
My new husband will be there to support Steven. Steven has asked my new husband to not walk on the field. He loves Jon. Appreciates all Jon does for him. But football is something he shared with his dad. And he wants his senior night to be about him and his dad. And Jon understands. Honors Jared’s space. Is not upset or offended.
This week is going to be an emotional one. Full of joy. And some sadness. Full of pride. As well as some sorrow. I am blessed that I am here to get to walk my son across the football field. I know what a privilege it is that I have been here to see him grow into the wonderful young man he has become. I never take that for granted. Because his dad no longer has that privilege. I would give almost anything if his dad could be here for just one more day.
So on Friday, as I walk my son across the field, I will be bursting with pride. I’m sure I will be shedding more than a few tears. And I know my son will be strong. But his heart will be aching. He will be missing his dad. And I pray that he feels his dad’s presence around him. And then plays an amazing game of football for his dad in heaven to watch.
When your spouse dies when your children are young, they miss out on so much. The spouse misses out on witnessing all of those proud parent moments. And the child misses out on having both parents as active participants and all those moments. All of the milestones, the firsts, and the lasts associated with high school and especially senior year have taught me that. On Friday Night as I wipe the tears from my eyes, I will hold my son a little tighter. Give him an extra squeeze. Remind him just how proud his dad would be of him.