Andrew didn't take me very far...I haven't been running. Not that kind, anyway. I was busy preparing for a big dinner for the Greyhound Athletic Foundation. This is their third year of inducting top athletes and community people into their Hall of Fame. I wanted to thank them for helping me through Andrew's services by giving a bit of my time to help them prepare this event. I was definately "running" the last week, updating the ticket reservations and finalizing the plans.
I enlisted Bill's help in picking up some trees for the room decor at the Santa Margarita Ranch. The event is held in the big barn, the Asistencia as it was named in the Mission days, is the site for the yearly event. The room holds up to 32 tables and we had to put on the table clothes, add centerpieces and decorations, table tents with the sponsors' names, all the tableware, some of which was borrowed and some rented. We started at 9 am and barely finished up by 3 pm with four of us working the entire day. We could only carry 8-10 dinner plates, or cup racks containing 25 cups or glasses at a time. So we made many trips back and forth to collect dishes and set them on the tables. I must have walked 10 miles by the end of the day.
It was so worth it. I got to see 10 people be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Each person gave a speech, some longer than others, but each was truly honored to receive the award. As they spoke about their years playing sports and of the positive influence the coaches had on their lives, I thought of Andrew.
Good role modeling is what I sought for my son through sports. Being part of a team, depending on others and being consistent for the team are the lessons he learned that shaped his character. While Andrew was not the Most Valuable Player of every team he was ever on, he certainly always wanted to be. His desire was huge, and he worked hard at every sport, every season to be the best he could be with the role he was given. The experiences they talked about that night were the experiences Andrew lived through sports, the experiences my daughters had, as well. Expecially when they got to the high school level: they became part of the community which was represented on this night and it made me proud to be a part of it.
I had opened my home up to the football team for pre-game dinners during Andrew's junior and senior years, and I am so glad I did. Several moms helped out and together we would feed 30-40 boys that showed up for the meal. Those boys still remember me and will come up and give me hugs when they see me.
A plaque has been ordered for Andrew to be included on the "Wall of Fame" at the high school. This is possible through the many donations people gave following his death as a memorial remembrance. I hope when people see it and read his name they remember a smiling boy who worked hard and wanted to be the best on the field. A boy who never gave up. Who did the right thing, even when it was hard. I think, in the end, he truly thought he was doing the right thing for himself.
All I know is, the game is over. It can't be replayed, except in our minds. We can second guess every decision, every act, comment, thought, etc., but we really only had one chance and it is now gone. We gave what we had to give in that moment, and for us, came up short. Andrew will always be with us, but we are lonely without him and the game will never be the same. We miss him, and we don't get a do-over.
So I guess we do what other teams do: regroup. There will be another contest, another opportunity for us to reach out and help someone.