Today is football Saturday. I am a football fanatic and my Buckeyes are playing this weekend. This is our first big test since the first game of the season. We started the year as the consensus #1 team in the country and we have won them all right up until our last two games of the season. Now we play Michigan State and then Michigan back-to-back. I’m also a Bengals fan and we came out of the gate 8-0 this season setting a team record. I detest this time of year- when it’s getting dark and cold, with the exception of football. This year football has been exceptionally good to me. We are half way through the NFL season and most of the way through the college season and I have not tasted defeat. Sweetness. However, perfection on this planet is an elusive illusion and in week 10 of the NFL season, reality is about to hit me even in this, my distraction from real life.
What is it about us that makes us seek perfection? We know we can’t have it, but we crave it anyway. I had a life that was seemingly perfect to many looking in from the outside. I can tell you this though. If you look at someone’s life and you think it’s perfect, you don’t know enough about their life. We all have our burdens to bear, some small some large. And, if, by some chance, your life is perfect for a while- just wait. Things in life always change and the second law of thermodynamics applies. In a closed system, entropy (disorder) always stays the same or increases. Things tend to go to shit, put in layman’s terms.
Each week as the Buckeyes would add another victory, as the Bengals would pull of another game, I’d get an increasing amount of satisfaction, but as the next game approached, I’d get an increasing amount of fear. Nothing goes right forever. An undefeated season in the NFL has been an impossibility since 1972. No team has gone undefeated, a perfect season since the expansion to a 16 game schedule. Sports gives us another life lesson. If you play long enough, you will lose. I love sports because it gives us an acceptable outlet for aggression, lets us practice tribalism without harming anyone and gives us incredible highs. But, those highs come at a price. The reason it’s so thrilling when we win is because there is always the possibility that we could lose. This week, first the Bengals brought me back down to Earth with their defeat on the Monday night game where they looked like the Bengals of old, blinded by the bright lights of night time football. And today, it’s the Buckeyes turn to return me to Earth as their luck finally runs out and they lose to MSU. It was a nice run while it lasted, but that’s it for the Buckeyes. Any chance of repeating as National Champions is gone. One week of imperfection and the season is over.
This tops off a week where Ty’s friend’s father passed away unexpectedly and another friend’s friend committed suicide. My brother and his family came to watch the game with us. I was wondering what the holidays might be like this year, now I know. I said would never be one of those people who hates Christmas because something tragic happened around the holidays. Well, that is partially true. Shayna’s death could have happened any further from Christmas coming on June 24th. So, the anniversary of her death is no where near the holidays. But being around family, seeing their families in tact, laughing, bickering, just being, reminds me that Shayna isn’t with us. I find myself thinking about Shayna constantly, missing her. They tell us that the departed are with us at family gatherings and I try to take comfort in the fact that Shayna is here. But, she’s not eating pizza, she’s not cracking jokes. She’s not here to hug me when I say goodnight to Kayla who is home for her birthday. I go to bed and close my eyes and I miss her so badly I feel like my head is going to explode. Perfection is a LONG, LONG way from here and there will never be even any semblance of it as long as I’m trapped in this flesh. I begin to sob. Ty and I are at the point where when this happens to one of us no words are necessary and none are sufficient. She just holds me while I cry it out. I actually think I feel Shayna’s presence and that does bring some comfort. I have to keep holding on.
As I begin to drift off to sleep I have the feeling I might not wake up. Just a feeling. Just a thought. To my surprise I reject it. “No. This cannot be.” As much as I want to be dead, I’m not looking forward to dying. And, as much as I want to be with Shayna, the thought of leaving Ty and Kayla alone is not something I want to do any time soon.
So, I learn to live with not only imperfection but with the impossibility of even the illusion of perfection. In life, as in the NFL,there are no perfect seasons.