Friday, September 25, 2009

No Friday night lights for me

It's Friday, and tonight was the big local high school football game between the two crosstown rivals: Grosse Pointe North (the high school I graduated from 30 years ago) and Grosse Pointe South (the high school my son attended).

Earlier today a friend of mine e-mailed me at work and invited me to go to the game with him. I thought about it for a minute, then e-mailed him back and told him I probably wouldn't be going. Instead of making a lame excuse, I was just totally honest with him:

"maybe i'll come. but i'll be perfectly honest with you...going to high school events after what i went through with [my son's name] at south is really, really hard for me. that probably sounds dumb, but it's just something i struggle with. so don't be surprised if i don't show up."

After I sent that e-mail, I wondered if what I said would sound crazy to my friend. But I felt some comfort when I remembered a passage from the book Addict in the Family: Stories of Loss, Hope, and Recovery by Beverly Conyers (which I've quoted in my blog before). I happened to have that book with me at work, so I pulled it out of my backpack and re-read the passage I was thinking of:

"Todd scratched his head, causing the silver-brown hair to stand on end. He took a long time getting to his next point, which for him seemed to be the most difficult. 'I listen to our friends talk about what their kids are doing: graduating from college, starting careers, getting married and settling down. Normal stuff, you know? I just change the subject. What did they know that I didn't? Where did I go wrong?'"

Unfortunately, this is something I struggle with almost every day. Seeing "normal," well-adjusted kids around my son's age is hard. Being around their parents? That's even harder. It's why I avoided the graduation parties when my son's class graduated last summer. It's why I have trouble hearing my friends talk about their kids' high school and college activities. And it's why I just don't feel like going to the local high school football games. All those normal kids and normal parents in one place? Man, that would just smother me.

A few hours later, my friend e-mailed me back, and the words in his reply made me realize that he is indeed a good friend:

"That is not dumb at all. I thought of that potential issue when I invited you. I am sure almost everyone would have those same thoughts."

It felt so good to know that somebody else understood how I felt.

1 comment:

  1. I have a different reason for shunning high school football, which I used to love. Mark did a series of stories about a high school quarterback named Buddy Miley who was hit during a game and rendered quadriplegic. Twenty years later, Buddy persuaded one of his brothers to take him to Michigan for an appointment with Dr. Kevorkian. Ever notice the ambulance sitting at the edge of the field? I do. It's all I see. So I stay home.