“I find it hard to say that everything is alright. Don’t look at me that way, like everything is alright. ”
Lyric from: I Find It Hard to Say (Rebel) from the album MTV Unplugged No. 2.0: Lauryn Hill
Written By: Lauryn Hill
Performed by: Lauryn Hill
|Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, photo courtesy of CBSSports.com|
On Sunday, December 25, 2005, I sat and talked with my dad about the Dallas Cowboys, the Tennessee Titans and about life in general. Less than 24 hours later, he was gone.
My father had a heart attack in his sleep and, it ended his life along with the possibility of us sitting down for a long chat ever again.
In the days that followed I went about the business of making the arrangements. I had somehow become my family’s unofficial spokesperson, grief counselor and finance manager. As my father’s biggest fan, I felt like it was my duty to be strong.
He would have wanted me to be strong.
On a Sunday night in December a couple of years earlier, Brett Farve's dad, Irvin Farve, died of a heart attack while driving near his home in Kiln, MS. The next day, Farve made his 205th consecutive start as his Green Bay Packers took on the Oakland Raiders in Oakland for Monday Night Football.
He torched the Raiders for 399 yards and four touchdowns that night.
Leading up to and during the broadcast that evening, analysts and commentators everywhere talked about how therapeutic it must have been for Farve to play in that game. They talked about how football was probably a welcome distraction for him.
After the game, Farve said that he knew his father would have wanted him to be on the field that night.
As I look back on that remarkable Monday night performance now with my own perspective on that type of bereavement, I am less apt to oversell the therapeutic benefits of that moment. And I know all too well that the distraction, though welcome, was no doubt temporary.
I am also very well aware of how quickly folks can put your loss behind them.
Yesterday the Buffalo Bills announced that 2nd year defensive tackle Marcell Dareus intends to play in their home opener this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Dareus’ brother, Simeon Gilmore, was one of three men shot and killed this week in a triple homicide in a suburb outside of Birmingham, Alabama.
On Sunday he will be heralded for his perseverance and his courage during this unfortunate time but, in a few months many of us will possibly have forgotten that he endured this tragedy at all.
As the weeks pass this NFL season, we will think less and less about this misfortune and become more and more singularly focused on Dareus’ performance on the field. No longer protected by the hedges of our compassion, he will once again be subjected to our harshest criticisms or worse yet, off of our radars altogether.
Just last month we grieved with Andy Reid over the loss of his son during Philadelphia Eagles training camp but that ordeal is a distant memory now as all talk has turned to whether or not that team is a dynasty, whether Michael Vick will finish the season and whether or not Reid is still the man for the job.
As it turns out, despite what I’m sure are our best intentions to the contrary, our sympathies often ring temporary as well.
The fact is that long after the headlines have changed, the painful void left behind by a loved one’s death will remain.
It is an experience after which one’s life is never the same.
I will be rooting for Marcell Dareus on Sunday but, mostly, I will be praying that in the days and years that follow that he will be patient with himself as he adjusts to his sorrowfully altered life.
His time on the field Sunday will hopefully be the distraction he needs. The strength he demonstrates in the difficult times ahead will be exactly what his family needs as they start the healing process.
All likely just what his brother would have wanted.