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Life, Death & Football...

I was watching Monday Night Football last night when something horrific happened. A young, fit player collapsed after a tackle. He got up then fell to the ground. His life is hanging in the balance right now, he is in critical condition.


Apparently he suffered a heart attack on the field and they were able to get his heart started again. What happens next is really up to God and his handymen: the doctors, nurses and medical staff that attend to Damar.


As I sat there and watched this community pull together and fight for Damar’s life, I saw priorities get shifted, I saw players crying, I saw coaches speechless, I saw the media show restraint and really be relegated to having not much to say...


We deal with life and death every day...all of us. Each day we are blessed enough to wake up is another day our lives are in peril, but we get used to waking up so we expect that we will; each new day brings the promise of another.


I don’t think of life and death when watching football. It is a violent sport. Many people are injured, some grievously. Very rarely does someone die, or become lifeless on the field.


I have the image of him falling to the ground etched in my mind. If I close my eyes, I can’t stop seeing it. I seemed to be attached to the moment where I saw life leave this young man. He was up and then he was down.


Just like that. A healthy, vital young man was prone on the field, his bright and promising future hanging in the balance.


And I was there, with him, watching this daily battle we all face, living and dying. He survived the night which is a good sign. I am praying for him, his family and all his teammates and colleagues that are much more intimately affected. I do not know Damar and likely never will, but his life touched mine last night and I am altered because of it.


For me, he is a reminder of just how precious this whole life thing is. One minute we have it and are living the dream, the next we are barely here...


Such a slim line between life and death. Such a delicate balance to living, as dying always is waiting, patiently for our time to cease all this living and make the transition to whatever is next.


I did not sit down to watch the game last night expecting to have a spiritual experience, but I did. Everything that I took and take for granted altered forever. I turned on the TV to be entertained, and instead, I was transfixed to one fellow human’s struggle to remain living.


There are few details, I am sure those will come in the hours and days to follow. We demand them as if we have the right to know. We do not. It really isn’t our business. Whatever happened to him, is between him and God and the medical staff and his family. Our job is not to know, our job, so it would appear at least to me, is to pray. To use this tragic situation to wake up to all the life that is going on around us. To really see our spouse, our kids, our co-workers, parents, friends. To see that they are filled with life spirit and at any moment, their life might also hang in the balance, that space between life and death.


I stayed up late watching the TV people just repeat the same information over and over again. I watched them replay the same clips of all the lives gravely affected and altered last night. I watched for hours because I didn’t know what else to do. Moving on with my night seemed disrespectful. Continuing to watch seemed voyeuristic and wrong. But I felt like, at least for last night, I could dedicate my time and energy to Damar and his family by praying.


I watch myself attempt to cheat death every day. Pretending like there is more time for love, for honor, for work, for showing up. But really there isn’t. All we are ever guaranteed is now. This moment. Right here, right now. And if perhaps we can stay there, then perhaps we can avoid buying into the delusion that there is more time. Time is something that it seems I always have way too much of or way too little. Last night I was delivered to a place where I was rendered shocked and amazed...looking for anything positive to pull from this awful turn of events.


And for me, it was the community and the respect given and received between the players and coaches. Even the media took a step back and gave some deference to the grave situation unfolding. Each of us transfixed as Damar’s life took center stage and reminded us all that there are no guarantees. There are no more minutes perhaps. That all we are granted is right now.


Today I remain grateful that he is still with us. That his mother is by his side and for the medical staff who have trained their whole careers to handle situations like this. Who show up every day to save those of us whose time is not yet, and to usher those of us whose time has come to the other side.


My distant heart breaks not for what happened or what I saw, but because another human being, a young man of 24 and all those who love and care for him, now are forced to sit and watch helplessly as time holds her cards close to her chest.


Football is a game of seconds and inches...turns out so is life.




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