The reverberations of heartbreak for this past week’s loss of a beloved member of the community and coach remind me of just how important that title is. I believe that my own grown sons and daughter would not be the men and woman they are today without their mentors, their coaches. The daily interactions and life instructions that good coaches teach leave a lasting mark on the future. No wonder parents and grandparents as well as students and athletes join the family in grieving a loss too soon.
What are we to do with loss? For young people facing the death of someone close to them for the first time, it is a painful step in the process of growing up—learning and coming to accept that life is fragile, even for the strongest. Freud once said that the death of a man’s father is the final stage of his growing up. Those of us who have lost a parent too soon understand that while it may not be the final stage, it is a turning point in understanding what it is to be human. This loss can prompt us to ask about the spiritual nature of our lives. It can help us know that every day counts, even just the ordinary ones. It can help us not to take one another for granted. And, as coaches teach, it reminds us that we must stay in the game and move forward, even when our hearts are breaking.
When we must let go of those we love and those who have loved and helped us on our way, we can choose to carry on some trait or quality that we have admired in our loved one. We can keep alive sayings and habits that will always remind us of them. As we age, these many shrines in the heart leave us with the vast riches of those who have gone before.
Who can doubt each spring when we see green buds struggling out of bare limbs that life has many seasons and is an eternal dance.