On that video I just posted, ESPN is showing the highlights of the most exciting football game I’ve ever gone to in person. Our guys were 5-4, Oklahoma State was #2 and absolutely dominant. My father-in-law was going to this game with me, and I apologized for the slaughter he was about to see. He offered optimistic arguments and I offered a counter or three to all of them. He looked a little confused, trying to figure out what was going on with his normally optimistic, full of Kool-Aid son-in-law. With that, we headed out into a cold, cold night to watch a certain nightmare of a game.
Except that it wasn’t. It turned out to be the thing I love most about sports. After seeing team after team and school after school put together one of those magical upset moments and wondering “Why can’t we have one,” we got one. It was tough. Oklahoma State took our guys to the edge of the disaster we knew was coming. Then it changed. One guy (little Jarvis West) made a play. Another guy. Eventually, we were tied and headed for overtime. My father-in-law started to get cautious, and as my Kool-Aid bubbled over to levels well past sanity, his caution got the words “No way. I’m all in. This is about to happen!!! We’ve got this!!” We did, and I was there.
I’m obsessed with that game the last few days because it matches this past semester, and the last few developments in this after-Doria journey. I won’t do them all here, but I’ll set up a whole bunch of blogging here.
Simply put, I read over and over that the process of grief gets harder, much harder, months after the event. I knew it was coming. I prepared for it. I had no idea what I was in for.
Academically, I had managed to read for most of the fall semester. There were hiccups, but I could get things done eventually. Early in the spring, I still could. Then the curtain came down, and academic disaster seemed ready to strike. I could not read a word, and that’s not a good spot for a grad student to be. I wanted to, and every attempt got worse. I was certain that I could see the coming disaster, and nothing (absolutely nothing) was making that better. I prayed. I met with my professors, who were incredibly understanding. Nothing got better. Failure was imminent.
I’ve always been able to get things done. Suddenly, the first time I did something, even if it was something I was used to excelling at, I couldn’t do it. Not only could I not do it, but it brought about increasingly powerful stretches of panic. I couldn’t remember a ton of specifics or procedures, but I could remember failure, and failures were piling up left and right. I watched people turn things in while I sat quietly, hoping nobody would notice the obvious failure.
I’ve always been a preparation freak. Now I went to my classes (not the teaching ones, but as a student) unprepared. Again, I was just hoping to be anonymous, which is impossible for me in this setting. My fellow students and my profs have known me too long to think I’ll just coast by in silence. Out of all the things I needed to do as a professional student, I couldn’t do a single one. The things I did to survive the fall, I could not do anymore.
Everything I’ve involved myself in looked to be falling apart completely. I’m normally in Jamaica at this time teaching at a small but awesome Bible college. I didn’t have an invitation this year, and those voices of panic told me that my favorite ministry opportunity was dead and gone, just like Doria. Everything seemed to point that way, until some actual evidence appeared. Evidence is nice.
***Since you have to be wondering right now, this is the short version. Just like the game went to double overtime, so am I 🙂 ***
Everything reached the lowest point this semester, except for expecting our next daughter Zoe. We saw her ultrasound, watched her wave at us, and were blown away by the ups and downs of ultrasounds. Both of us are pretty excited about the chaos Zoe should bring in September.
As everything reached the low, things began to change. I talked to someone with some good answers. I can read again. I can handle the panic now. I can overcome the panic now. Things are getting done now. I had a night where my major prof felt compelled to send a note that said “It was nice to have you ‘back’ tonight.” I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not rumbling down the tracks.
It’s like winning. There will be more details coming (at least the ones I’ll share). It’s a tremendous feeling. Just like the biggest football win in school history, though, it didn’t get better until disaster was about to become very, very real. For the first time, though, since Doria died, things legitimately seem to be looking up. I know that there are more hard times to come. I don’t want to be naive about it, but those tough times are on a victorious road, and that’s awesome.
So, I look back at this semester now, the second one After Doria, I think about myself and the team around me, and I can say “Touchdown, we did it!!!”
It’s sweet. Winning is fun.