Last September marked the first fall where my life was not consumed by Jaret's hockey. Each year before that, he and I were consumed by things like, where is he going to play, how many sticks do we need to buy, what shape were his skates in, everything that each parent goes through with their son or daughter in August and September. I loved it.
So with Jaret no longer playing hockey, instead choosing to go to school and begin working towards a career (and staying close to his love, Jessica), September came with a sense of loss and lack of direction. I kept wondering to myself, what am I supposed to do?
It was so joyous to see my grandson, Calib, starting hockey. I think I was awed by nature, by fate at that time, somehow carrying Calib onto the ice the very same way I carried Jaret onto the ice nearly 17 years ago seemed so much like the seasons of the year, when each year ended, another one began. Slowly, and with a lot of patience, I taught Calib to skate the very same way I had taught Jaret and wouldn't you know, towards the end of September, Calib was shuffling his feet and skating! It was fantastic.
But what really struck me was to hear Calib echo the conversation Jaret and I had all those years ago. "Calib, what do you do if you fall down?" I would ask. "Grandpa, I get back up."
This conversation has a special meaning for me today, because each time Calib offers this lesson, I hear Jaret's voice echoing the same lesson back to me. And it really hurts because in Calib's voice I can hear Jaret telling me, "Dad, you have to get back up."
I was so blessed with all my children. I tell Josh and Lhea every time I talk to them, how much I love them. And this was true with Jaret, every time we spoke I told him how much I loved him. Even on that fateful day, the last words we spoke were "I love you." So I know Jaret went, knowing how much I love him, and how much of my heart goes with him on his journey.
Like every father telling their son, or every mother telling their daughter, every parent telling their child, we all love them with all our heart. But is a parent's love enough to keep them safe?
My prayers for this week are with the friends and family of Jaret, Kody, Jordan and Greg. I pray that each of these young people, our sons and daughters, see just how much as a community we love them, how important to our whole community each and every one of them are, and in these next weeks, recognize the pain and loss our entire community has endured. I pray that our community never has to suffer through this again, and the future of our young people is safe, sound, and full of love.
To Jaret's friends and his family, remember his smile, remember his laugh, remember his beautiful face, close your eyes and listen for his voice. Because he is telling each of us, "I love you, get back up."