A few Sunday evenings ago I went to the awards banquet for the boys tennis team.
This was Jay’s second banquet of the year, the first was to commemorate the end of the Nordic Ski season, so one would think that I would be completely ready for this one. Well, at least that is what I figured.
By chance a friend spent the day with us and I have to admit it helped tremendously. I would have stressed all day about this banquet because unlike the first, this one was on a Sunday. The drive to the golf course where the banquet was being held was pretty and rainy and although Jay talked and talked, my mind drifted. Here we were, once again, another event where I would be walking in beside him and Brett not beside me.
Overall the JV team did great! They finished strong at 6 & 3. Jay did very well. Coach described him as “a great guy, first to volunteer if anyone needs anything. Very fun, would do anything for anyone and always has a smile on his face. He’s showing great improvement and finding his stride.” She refers to him as the first half of the DreamTeam; Drake, a junior who was Jay’s doubles partner is the second half
You don’t realize that both parents are present when you’re married, even if one of you can’t make an event you don’t look to see who is sitting by themselves. You don’t look to your children’s faces in search for any expression of sadness because one of you isn’t there and you certainly don’t try to be more that just a Mom because you know that Dad’s at home or wherever. I remember as a small child wanting to have two parents present and asking my Mom for a Dad. Thankfully my kids are older and they won’t suffer through that exact scenario, although theirs may even be worse. Mine was an idea of someone, but they miss their Dad, the Brett that they were fortunate to get to know, love and will always remember. He will always be there in the shadows of all achievements and all disappointments. I’m not sure how one maneuvers through some of this and then advises them accordingly. Specifically for me it’s the constant playing of the roles of both mother and father but not equipped or prepared to do so. It’s that balance of being stern but not too stern, compassionate while not letting them get away with murder, which let’s face it if you know me you know that I tend to not be balanced. Brett was that, our balance. He was the good cop, he kissed the boo-boo’s and had a gentle touch while I, the one who would make sure that the punishment ensured they learned a lesson. I suppose in the end you can’t be all things to everyone and this banquet wasn’t as difficult for me but it did have it’s poignant moment.
We happened to walk in with another team mate and his Mom, we introduced ourselves and her and I sat at one of the parent’s tables where we introduced ourselves to a couple. After learning that the couple lived in my neighborhood, the wife said to me, “I’m so sorry about Brett, I knew him you know.”
I gulped, took a deep breath and braced myself. No, I didn’t know. I didn’t expect condolences today. I hate the words “I’m sorry”. I don’t know what to say, am I supposed to say me too or thank you? Regardless of what I say, to me it sounds ridiculous and it makes he swallow hard, push back tears and want to run. My face must have shown my surprise because she added she worked with him.
What a relief! I immediately asked her about work, her team, Brett’s team and how they support her. It was no longer personal, well, not personal for me. As we were dismissed from our table to join the buffet line, I took the long way, I was opposite from her as we served our meals but it didn’t stop her. “Brett was a wonderful man and he is missed.”
Ugh, it took every bit of composure to not let my face crumple and the tears fall, so I smiled instead and meant the thank you I couldn’t say but mouthed silently. She knew it so she added, “I won’t say anything more I just had to let you know.”
It was odd, I immediately went from scared that I would show emotion to feeling Brett was letting me know he was there. I’ve stated before I believe in signs and am completely aware that it could be my way of dealing with my grief but what are the odds? Is it sheer coincidence that I sat at a table with his coworker? It could be, but for now, I will take comfort and solace in the signs.