Monday, December 7, 2009

Just Unlike Everyone Else

My power ranger son Brandon's hockey game was at 715am yesterday (Sunday!!). Those of you involved in hockey with your kids know that its not just a recreational sport, its a lifestyle- getting up before the sun rises, hot chocolate at the games, donning and doffing all the equipment, its quite an experience.

My son and the other 6 year olds weren't even the first game scheduled to play. As we entered the arena, we could hear the cheers and scraping noises generated by the two teams already on the ice. Brandon felt the excitement and ran into the rink area. There, he saw the game going on, but also the unexpected- the players were on custom built sleds of a sort. Each of the hockey players had a condition, whether it be a missing leg, a missing arm, or the like. Notwithstanding the sleds, the game was like any other- proud parents cheering, random spectators watching, even the guide dogs watched intently in the bleachers. To answer in a form Brandon could digest the barrage of "why" and "how come" questions that her rattled off was truly an art form. The players got off the ice at the end of the game, most with the help of family. The answer to Brandon's last question was the shortest, yet most profound: "Daddy, why aren't they crying?" "Because they aren't sad," I told him. Brandon sat in the bleachers, and watched with humility as all the players disengaged from their sleds. His hands lightly touched his own body parts as he looked on. He listened to their comraderie. He felt their triumph. My little power ranger didn't move from his bleacher seat until they all left. It was his way of saluting them.

Brandon's teammates began to arrive and ready themselves with their equpment. Another six year old boy near us was accompanied by his father. The boy began to whine about the fact that the neck guard he was required to wear before getting on the ice was uncomfortable. "You shouldn't cry," Brandon told the boy. I responded to a car accident later that day. I wanted so badly to say the same thing to the lady I had in the back of my ambulance on the way to the hospital. There wasn't a scratch on her.

I just got done prepping a client for tomorrow's deposition. He suffered a fractured ankle, wore a cast for 7 weeks, and did some physical therapy thereafter. As we explored the topic of how the trip and fall accident for which he is suing affected his life, I thought of those hockey players. "Do you like hockey?" I asked my client. "Love it" he said. I invited him to meet me at the hockey rink next Sunday.

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