Friday, September 11, 2009

When Ugly is Beautiful

Did you see that game last night? What a nail biter! I think the unofficial motto of the Steelers should be "Winning Ugly is Still Winning". For Steeler fans, it was more or less what we have come to expect: the defense keeps the game close and makes sure the opposing offense pays for whatever they get, while our offense looks unsettled and out of sync for three quarters, then finally getting in a rhythm to bring the team and their nervous fans back from a deficit and to finally win it on the foot of Jeff Reed. Business as usual. Of course, the business of winning got a little too interesting last night with the injuries of key players on the defense (come back soon Troy) and a highly uncharacteristic fumble by Hines Ward.
Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers
But, all's well that ends well, and for a solid five to ten minutes, I totally forgot that we were missing a member of our Nation, and that constant hole I carry around in me wasn't there. It was filled up by sheer panic and the desire to comfort Hines and wipe that sad, despairing look away. But, they pulled it out in overtime. The revenge for the last year's disrespect of a Terrible Towel, the most revered symbol of our citizenship in the Steeler Nation, was complete. The TV was turned off, Marissa and her boyfriend headed back to campus, and I took all the requisite decorations down to store until the next game. And then, in the aftermath of that beautiful ugliness, the hole came back, added now with the worry over our superlative strong safety, who left the game with a knee injury. One step forward sometimes and two steps back.

I have come to accept living with this feeling that only really goes away for fleeting moments, and then, when it returns, comes back with a little added pinch of guilt, as if concentrating on something else for a moment and forgetting to feel a gnawing loss is a sign that maybe I don't love my daughter enough. And I feel guilty because I can have those brief moments when I'm fully involved with something at work or when the Steelers are making things a little too interesting, but I don't think Greg can yet. And that worries me on two levels.

I watched him when the Texas Longhorns kicked off their season last weekend. As is traditional, the big college programs give themselves their own little pre-season with a couple of tune-up games against small colleges with no real depth to their roster. They're supposed to be blow-outs and almost always are, with rare exceptions (just ask Michigan fans). No worries. No furrowed brows. I think Greg gave it the All American Try. He invited people over and tried to make a real season kick-off out of it. But, I could tell he was distracted. I kept half an eye on him last night. He wasn't any better. Of course it wasn't his team. Maybe by Sunday when the Cowboys take the field, he can have himself a small moment's worth of diversion. But, I realized as this oh-so-long-awaited season commences that he and I have reached a point where we are at different places in our grief. He knows it too. I worry about that. For, as long as we were both wallowing down in the depths together, we were united. If one of us moves out of the muck sooner than the other, where does that leave us? I think we are at a delicate time where things could get messy. Now is the time we will have to rely on all those years of therapy that pulled us together so we could try and help our daughters. Now we will need it to try and help ourselves.

In the meantime, I will take my moments where I can get them, but hope that not too many of them come quite like that one. Winning is a beautiful thing, but, guys, there are prettier ways to do it.

Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers


  1. Look at it from this point of view, rather than feeling guilty that you are moving a little bit up out of the muck, look at it as you are gaining higher ground that will give you a better advantage to help Greg gain his. It will give you a little more room to focus on being there for Greg instead of just being there with Greg...hope that makes sense.

    Much love to you both....go Steelers, go Cowboys.

  2. I agree with Val. You can't help him until you help yourself. Maybe just let him know that you're not leaving him behind.