Dalton Anderson checking in for the ol’ Mama Bear. Not that my mom is old, but since she’s a grandma and all I guess it wouldn’t be true to say she’s young either ;). Instead of digging myself a grave, I’d like to share a story of what happened this weekend. My two brother-in-laws play basketball at a 1A high school in southern Utah. This past weekend was the 1A State Championship game, and Bryce Valley was playing its region rival – the Panguitch Bobcats – for the title. I myself attended a 5A school, with a class of almost 1,000 students, so it was an adjustment to marry a gal whose graduating class was 12 people. However, I have seen the light and testify that 1A sports is where it’s at! Rivalries are more intense, and the stakes are higher. One day I’ll write an essay explaining all the reasons why 1A>5A, but that’s not what I care to share at this time.
The point is, this game meant a lot to my two brothers, the team, and the community. Both teams earned their spot in the finals, but only one team would exit as State Champions. I’ll spoil the ending, Bryce Valley lost. It was a tough outcome for the boys and the community, but the team played well and I was a proud brother-in-law. As everyone waited for the team to exit the locker room to exchange hugs and tears, I saw my younger bro-in-law exit first. I’m very close to my in-laws, and I often forget that “in-laws” is even in the title with my wife’s family. I pushed past other players and family members to hug my younger brother. He had tears in his eyes, I wrapped him up for an empathetic bear hug when I reached him. He said, “I wanted it so bad. I wanted that win so bad.” I got teary-eyed as I said I understood, and that he would have another chance.
Obviously there was nothing I could say to “fix” the feeling for him, or any of the players. The game clock had run to 00:00, there were no timeouts left, no more miracle three-pointers to be had, and no chance for a state ring. No one would feel the weight of defeat like the boys on the team and the coaches that led them. How could anyone? They were the ones that trained hours through the summer and school year, played game after game, practiced drills and plays until exhaustion. I’m fully aware that their life will not be decided by losing the 1A State Championship. Years down the road they’ll forget what the final score was, or the details of the game, but I know I’ll never forget the feeling of mourning together with a group of people I care deeply about.
There was something surreal about mourning with those who had a feeling of great loss. The message I would share is that there are times in life when we, or someone we care about, will lose out on something they truly wanted. Instead of rushing to point out that the sun will rise, or that their problems are comparably minor, try taking in the moment with that person. Recognize that some things don’t need to be fixed, or changed, or even corrected. Empathy isn’t being able to say “I know what you’re going through,” it’s being able to say “I’m willing to feel what you’re feeling because I care about you.”
~Dalton Anderson, son of the amazing Amy Rees Anderson (who is working through the night yet again to prep for her Univ Board meeting she’s in charge of this week – the woman never sleeps, which is a problem because, well, grannie ain’t gettin any younger 😉 …just sayin’