For many of us, hockey was at the centre of our schedules and table conversations before COVID-19 became a household name. We were prepping for, or were in the middle of, playoffs. Some of us were getting our kids ready for Spring tryouts. There was talk of dryland training and extra skates so we could ensure our kids had the edge over the competition. I’m sure there were some conflicts with other teams, coaches, or sadly, other parents. At the time it was all so consuming and it seemed very important. We literally had no clue what was looming ahead. We had no idea that hockey and many other things was about to be ripped out from under us for a very long time.
Perspective is such a gift but it usually comes at a cost. This pandemic has been a sobering example of the lack of control we have over our lives. We think if we put it on the calendar and stick to our schedule we can “plan” our life exactly how we want to. Sometimes in the midst of the organizing we forget what’s important, we forget to have fun and, quite frankly, we forget to play. Right now, I would give anything to stand in a group of my hockey friends and talk about our day-to-day lives. I’d kill to watch my son hop on the ice for a game. I’d love to sit in a hotel room and play a game of euchre the night before a big tournament. None of those things have anything to do with competition, being the best, or getting caught up in the passion that can bring out the worst in us. It’s simply about being together without a worry of how much distance is between us. This pandemic has brought me back to the little things, of course I miss the competition of the game, but I miss being around my hockey friends more. What we’ve learned in all of this is that life or death situations always take over the things we see as so important in our day, even hockey.
I wrote a story in Lessons from Behind the Glass about perspective when I was at my worst as a hockey Mom. It reminds me of how I’m feeling as we all try to navigate this crazy time.
My beautiful friend Samantha and her husband had two great children Logan and Kaley. When Logan was six years old he was diagnosed with leukemia and went through treatment after treatment. This was such a difficult time for her family, but they all handled it with such strength.
Logan loved Jack and looked up to him so much. When Jack would play near their hometown we’d always go and have a visit with them. Logan would come to Jack’s games and cheer him on as loud as he could, as if Jack was doing something so amazing. All the while Logan was fighting for his life. When the stress of hockey would seem unbearable I’d think of Samantha and Logan and all they were fighting for. I’d think of what it must have been like for her to try and keep her daughter feeling like she was as important as her child with cancer. I’d think of her and her husband who were in situations where they had to continuously make life- changing decisions and the arguments that must have come from that. I’d imagine Sam packing Logan up in the car to take him to the hospital for appointment after appointment, needle after needle and I couldn’t fathom how she was getting through it. Then I’d remind myself that I get to drive my son to hockey, not the hospital. No matter what was going on with hockey at that time it wasn’t catastrophic, regardless of the outcome of the game we knew Jack would be coming home with us to his own bed, not a hospital bed. She’ll never know how much she was on my mind in those times. Without knowing it she helped me to keep it all in perspective. All those moments that I was ready to fight with someone over a hockey game, how stupid does that sound? I was going to fight with someone over hockey game while she was fighting for her son’s life. It was in those times that I’d remind myself that hockey isn’t cancer; it’s just a game and I get to drive my child to the rink not to the hospital.
As I think of the past few months and the families that have paid the ultimate price because of COVID-19, I’m reminded, once again, that hockey is gift of fun in a very unpredictable life. Hockey isn’t life or death but it is something that adds great joy to our life if we let it. As much as I loved watching my son make a great save or win a championship, today all I want is for my kids to stay healthy. A few months ago, if you would have asked me what my favourite part of the game was, I probably would have said a great goal or an amazing save. If you were to ask me today, my answer is very different. What I’m looking most forward to is the day when we’ll be watching kids celebrate on the ice, hugging each other or high fiving without worrying if they’re six feet apart.
- Written by Allyson Tufts