Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Left Kidney - Hope

When I was young, my parents made me attend and become a Job's Daughter as my dad is a Mason and Shriner and my grandmother was the Grand Worthy Matron or something like that of the Eastern Star.

Back when I was growing up, those organizations had some meaning as they collectively raised money, built buildings, helped the poor and more.

Job, of the Bible, suffered greatly.  It seemed no matter where he went or what he did, suffering followed him.  Through all of his life, however, he never lost his faith in doing what was right.  In learning about Job's trials and tribulations, we young ladies were taught to overcome, to never lose our faith, to believe... in something bigger than ourselves.

That has held true in my own life from the abusive home I was raised in to the loss of my first son to SIDS to being disowned by my own parents to decisions I made in 2007 that destroyed whatever wealth I had accumulated and subsequently, my living son's and my life.

I never lost faith.  In registering for classes to become a doc, I had a purpose each day.  That purpose was to serve those who needed medical care the most in the most desperate of ways.  Having been "earth core dirt poor" as my son told me, not only do I empathize with those less fortunate, but I've truly walked in their shoes.

As a student I got to watch hockey for free; nothing like Gopher or Bulldog hockey!  Once in awhile, I went to Wild games but really, my heart never pitter patted for that team.  Somewhere in there a certain Ranger was on TV, doing "his thing" that he did when younger.  I loved his feisty attitude to protect his fellow teammates from harm, from people like Marchand.

In 2014, it looked like things might turn around for me.  Got a great contract with a local company integrating their $300M acquisition for all finance, legal and sales systems and processes.  I saved money, paid for my parents' living expenses, and hoped with the current CFO it would become a permanent job.

Tickets for the Tampa Bay Lightning came and, that Ranger, now played for the Bolts.  He brought that same zest for his new team that he displayed with vigor in NYC.

Having friends who played in the NHL, I never really thought about buying a jersey with a name emblazoned on the back...

But Boyle got put on the 1st jersey I ever purchased.

During 2015, when that role looked like it might become perm, the CFO was pushed aside for a new guy and my life changed over the course of that year, and 2016.

Many times I've said 2010 was the 2nd worst year of my life only preceded by the worst year, the year Austin died in 1986.

But 2016 was definitely worse that 2010.  There were days where my son and I didn't eat because what food we had, went to our dogs.  Jobs lined up, but contracts ended because a Chinese company bought the client...

Suffering.  And hope.

Someone who knew my situation gave me tickets to a playoff game for the Bolts v Detroit.  Figuring the seats were nose bleed, I was ill prepared to see the game I did.

Of course, it helped that #11, Brian Boyle was still with the Bolts... and he has this thing with Abdeldaker... the chicken dance.

I laughed, cheered, clapped until I cried.  For 3 hours, I got to forget.  My son got to forget that when we got back home, there was little food and hope was running out.

Bill had purchased the tickets for my friend but I thanked him for doing so because I got to enjoy the game.  A few weeks passed and Bill hearing about our situation, bought more tickets to games, sent me tickets for the Storm, sent money for food, and sent me a signed Boyle jersey.

Each gift, I hope somehow he knows, I was eternally grateful and equally gracious.  As the summer came, Bill was given a date for seat selection for the season ticket members of 2016 - 17.  I didn't know why he sent that to me and didn't go.  He asked why I had not and demurred.  The truth was, I don't expect anything from anyone in life and if he was thinking he was going to purchase full season ticket membership for my son and I, ... just couldn't.

The Lightning, however, are #1 in all 4 major sports as listed by ESPN for a reason.

They called me.  Not sure how they knew but they called and invited me to come to a seat event.

Before we went, Bill asked what I wanted for my birthday.  Like seriously, the man did everything to keep my son and I fed for a couple of months while I got on my feet... there was nothing I would want for or need from him.  I had no means to pay him back, though if I can/could, I will.

At the arena, we toured, talked and I learned more about that player.  That player named Boyle.

I'd heard he was a good guy but the Lightning staff told me his first date with his wife was a church service.

My heart melted.  Not only was he a great teammate but apparently an excellent boyfriend and now husband and father.

At the end of the tour, I was asked if I wanted to be a full season STM (season ticket member) and was given the monthly payment to have the seats.  At the time, I had an incoming job and was also thinking, maybe, if Bill asked again what I wanted for my birthday, I'd just say the down payment on our seats.

Events unfolded and suffice to say, I never asked Bill.  Too embarrassed to do so... too utterly thankful for everything he'd already done.  Completely. Overwhelmingly. Thankful.

The season started; Stammer got hurt.  My tweets to the team, and #11 Boyle... were numerous and often.

From Eric Thomas the Preacher Man motivational videos to stupid signs before the games... the season was hard.  As fans of the game, and the team, we never missed a national anthem or a last horn, no matter how bad the blowouts or how great the wins.

We stayed.  As I mentioned in another post, I feel like the Bolts' players' hockey mom.  I love these guys... like a mom.  So stinking proud of what they overcame this year.

Then as the team was rising again, with Boyle as the de facto leader on and off the ice... lightning struck and thunder killed my heart and soul.

Brian was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It made no sense to me.  He's not ever going to be Crosby or Langenbrunner or ... he's just going to be the guy who does everything he can to help his team win.

My tickets went up for sale on Ticketmaster per the NHL agreement.  The Boyle jerseys were washed, hung to dry, and put in the back of the closet.

I stopped watching games for a few weeks.

See, Brian he epitomizes everything I believe a pro player should be and in being traded was gracious then too.

Gutted.  Again, I love the entire team... but Boyle... Boyle was the reason I laughed, Boyle was the reason I came to love the Bolts.

For a fan, it is the name on the back of the jersey, not the emblem on the front.  Boyle led me to the Bolts...

And now, he was gone.

Eventually, I was asked if I was going to renew my STM and given I have no money to do so, I made it clear I'd have sold my left kidney to renew if Boyle was still on the team.

Invited to a local, small town hall with the team's leadership assistant general manager and SVP Marketing, I had one simple thing to say:

"Bring him home."

A few weeks passed - you know how in life there is a kindredness between people without any real understanding of why? - well, I give you this on Brian Boyle from Toronto:

Brian Boyle & Faith, Family, Hope

I sat in tears.  His brother died 2 months after my 1st son passed of the same thing. SIDS.  Too. Close.  I never knew even as I wrote to the team on this blog (though who knows if they read it) about my own son passing away and the hockey stick that was signed by the greats of UMD and buried with my little guy.

"Bring him home" I tweeted to the Bolts.

The Leafs made it to the playoffs, made a run at Washington... and there was Boyle.  Doing the little things to help propel his team forward that don't show up on a scorecard.

The Leafs were eliminated.  And given contracts and NHL things, I know the Bolts can't comment on anything related to players until late June after the Vegas draft and the players are done.

But that didn't stop me from writing to the Bolts, "Bring him home."

To be fair, I didn't even know (how would I?!?!) if Boyle wanted to come back to US.  When the trade occurred it sounded like he was shocked.  Who knew if he'd want to return to the team who he'd done everything for and then was thanked by being traded off his team, away from his friends (Heddy, Cally - who wears 24 for the Bolts and the number that Boyle chose for the Leafs jersey).

Who knew?!

Pictures speak a 1,000 words.

That's him, #24, in a weird Maple Leafs jersey.

He wants to return to Tampa.

"Bring him home," I said.

It looks like he's coming "home" to US, to the fans who love this guy, his character, personality, and integrity.

Whether I can renew or not, remains to be seen.  It is doubtful but if Boyle returns, my kindred spirt that I will likely never meet or really know, if Boyle returns... I still have my left kidney.

(EDITED: This is what I thought on 4/26/17 when the post was originally written; all tea leaves, indications, rumors, whispers, and tarot cards pointed to him returning... and of course, there was always my hope.)