I Hate Sports and I’m Coaching Volleyball

I hate sports. I hated gym class. The one time I played an organized sport was soccer when I was around five years old. My two best friends at the time played as well. One of the friends actually played, while the other one and I ran around the field holding hands and not paying any attention to the game. The first friend mentioned went on to play football and baseball in high school, while me and the other friend were more of band folks. If an activity included the words “athlete”, “running”, or “sport”, I was against it. For the most part, I still am.]

Today, I signed up to be an assistant volleyball coach. You might be wondering “What the heck? She just spent a whole paragraph explaining her hatred of sports!”. This is true. I am still not a fan of any sport. However, I have a very special reason I signed up.I signed up for the position through the Special Olympics chapter in my area. Special Olympics is an organization that lets people with intellectual disabilities participate in athletic events. It goes all the way from local play to nationwide competitions. It is a great organization, and I have thought about volunteering for years. I never thought I would be any good at it.

Recently, a close family friend and her long time boyfriend passed away within days of each other. Both had Down Syndrome and were long term participants in the sports. Dottie had multiple ribbons and trophies from when she played. Her obituary picture was her holding the torch at the beginning of the games.

After the couple passed, I knew I couldn’t just sit there and not do anything to honor her. I wanted to help other people feel the way she did during her time on the teams. Dottie used to bring pictures of her playing and her ribbons to church and proudly show them off. I want to help the volleyball team feel the confidence that Dottie felt. I also want to help the people know how important they are in the community and that people love them. Dottie might not be around anymore, but I can help keep her memory alive on the volleyball court. She was special to me, and I want to help the people participating feel special as well.

So I might not be an athletic genius. I might not even be an athletic beginner. I do know how to bump, and how to serve, and how to be compassionate toward people. I think the last one is the most important in the Special Olympics.

I can’t wait until Sunday so I can meet the people and get started on my journey to learning volleyball at the same time I am teaching it.

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Life and Why It’s Meaningless

There are some days that I wake up and am excited to church. Others, I am tired, cranky, and don’t want to get out of bed for anything. Today was a mix of both. I was pretty tired, but I only stayed in bed about ten minutes after my dad told me to wake up, instead of twenty minutes and dragging me out of my comfy kingdom where dreams come true.

Waking up to face the world, where those dreams are far away, is never fun. However, today I was a bit excited for the church service. I figured they were going to talk about Dottie, the amazing woman who passed away recently.Our whole church was shaken by her death. I also was excited to be with my church family, who grieved along with me and to give each other a sort of comfort you can only find at a church.

Recently, I have been having a hard time keeping up and paying attention in church. The only thing I can keep my concentration at least part of the time iste sermon. This is where my pastor gets to use his own words to describe the lessons we are learning that day. Today. That theme was asking the question “Is life meaningless?”

As someone who has dealt with suicidal thoughts on and off for years, this question hit me hard. Is life meaningless? One example my pastor gave was from a baseball player. When the player was asked how he got through each game, he answered this: “Ten million years from now, when then sun burns out and the Earth is just a frozen iceball hurtling through space, nobody’s going to care whether or not I got this guy out.” (http://www.baseball-almanac.com/quotes/quomcg.shtml)

Is this true? Is nothing I am doing now going to matter to anyone when the world ends, or when I end, whichever comes first? To a person who has dealt with suicidal thoughts, the answer to this is NO. Nothing I’ve done, even if I someday become the most famous writer in the world, is going to matter the the sun sucking us in. I’ll matter as much as murderers. Even if it’s just me dying and the world doesn’t end for a million years, those million years later, no one is going to think about me at those million years, or in a thousand years, or even in a hundred. If the history books were to ever say my name, those books are going to be gone or worthless by the time the world ends. I am not special.

My pastor also talked about Dottie and her boyfriend John’s recent deaths. John, who also lived with Down syndrome, died very soon after Dottie. It is believed that he died of the stress of losing Dottie. The pastor talked about how even with their challenges, they lived a full life, even fuller than some of us without a disability. They didn’t think life was meaningless.

The Special Olympics choir sang a couple songs at Dottie’s funeral, and those kids were fully into it. Even though their friend was gone, they put their full hearts into the performance. They live every moment of their life in a meaningful way.

We need to be like them. Yes, I might feel like life is useless sometimes. I might think I’d rather be dead than face the reality that life means nothing, that I mean nothing. It sometimes feels like I have a weight on my chest keeping me from doing anything useful, and that I am worthless and nobody needs me. These people who live with disabilities don’t let them get in the way. They live life to the fullest, not caring if people are going to remember them or not.

While life might be a black hole in the times I am suicidal, it can also be the sun. Not the sun sucking us in, the sun giving us light, allowing us to live.

Who care’s if we are remembered in a thousand years? As long as we live a life that pleases us, why worry if we are a memory preserved in time? We are here. We are now. Let the future belong to those who live there. Dottie and John never let their disabilities define them. We shouldn’t let our problems tell us we are nothing.

Life might seem meaningless at times. To tell you the truth, I think that life is meaningless at times. This is just my brain talking. It is just your brain talking. We are not nothing. We are something. Our problems won’t keep us from heavens. If we act as a child, with no worries of being remembered, we will get a lot farther than adults who spend life thinking life has no point.

Suicidal thoughts are the stem of why this sermon was so meaningful. Everybody has their own reasons. I’m sure everyone was shocked and deeply moved by my pastors words. We all learned that we are not everything, but we are something that is worth being acknowledged in our lives and in God’s kingdom above.

 

We Carry On

My face is dry

After five days of tears

Months of worry

Heart touched for years

 

Lifetime of friendship

Doesn’t end when Death comes

He might have a black cloak

She has a quilt made of love

 

Numbness settles in

A stage of deep grief

We all stand together

Hold hope with our teeth

 

It tries to fly away

Bitemarks turn to blood

Coursing through our bodies

While fear fits us like a glove

 

Scared of reality

Hit hard by the storm

Black is our color

Death will never mourn

 

However, we do

Our hearts will not change

Love is forever

No matter what they say

 

Memories don’t fly away

In time, we will find

Her bright teeth full frontal

Will unfreeze our minds

 

While life was cut short

It was also very long

We stand together

As we carry on

She Will Be Missed

Note: This was written yesterday, July 21, 2016

Sad isn’t a strong enough word for how I am feeling right now. This isn’t because of my bipolar or depression. This is because one of my favorite people in my life passed away this afternoon. I can’t wrap my head around it. She has been special to me since I was a little girl.

The woman I am talking about is a lady from our church who has Down Syndrome. She never let it get in the way of communicating with us in her own special way. Even though she couldn’t talk, she would smile, laugh, or shake her head as if embarrassed. We might have not been able to hear her speak, but we all knew what she was thinking. She would sit in church and use her bulletin to write “I Love You” notes and hand them out to the people around her. I’m sure I still have a few of them in my bedroom. I probably have a few of her Christmas cards as well.

I also miss her fist bumps. She would come up to you and put out a fist, and you couldn’t help but smile and bump your knuckles against hers. I know we also put a smile on her face. I remember making funny faces at her before church started and making her let out the most full-hearted laugh you could imagine.

She would normally sit two pews in front of us at church with another couple. Her parents sat behind her. Her mother is the nicest person you could ever meet. She is such a strong woman, battling with her own health issues, while helping her daughter with her’s. Her father was also an amazing man. They took her into their home when she was only three days old and gave her the best life she could have ever wanted. They made sure she had everything she needed and much of what she wanted. They are loving, and my family is very close to theirs. Her mother is like another grandmother to me. They are all my heroes, and I love them all very very much.

My grandparents took me and my sister to visit her a while back when she was in the hospital. She was feeling a bit better at that point, and was able to recognize us. She grabbed my hand and kissed it, and kept holding on. My sister and I each brought her a stuffed animal, and my grandparents brought her a hat. We put the hat on her, and put the stuffed animals on either side of her. My sister and I each got on opposite sides of her and took a picture. She was grasping my hand the whole time. I left with tears in my eyes, both full of happiness that she was feeling a little better, and sadness about how I knew she would go back down soon. It was the last time I saw her.

I was talking to my grandparents the other day. They were telling me about how my special lady was in a nursing home and an aide came in. She got really excited and trying to hug her. Her mother heard about it and went in to see the aide. Apparently the aide’s facial features and glasses were exactly like mine. I’d like to believe that this means she remembered who I was even at that time in her life. Even if that is not true, I know I will always remember her.

She had been taken to the ER the other day and was diagnosed with pneumonia. They knew that it was only a matter of days until she left us to go above.

I talked to my mother this morning about how much the woman meant to me. I also stated that this would be my first loss of someone I knew well and kept close to my heart if she did leave soon. My grandparents visited her this morning, and said that I could go with them the next time they went, but probably didn’t want to. They told me that she wouldn’t remember me and was not in good shape. They said it was really sad, and didn’t want to risk my shaky mental state by seeing her.

Then, I went in with my grandmother to get my toenails done. When I was almost done, my grandfather walked in and whispered something to my grandmother. She then looked at me for a few seconds while I asked what was wrong.

She was gone. She is gone. I almost lost it but calmed myself down until it was just a few tears rolling down my face. It’s been a rough day for me. I can’t imagine how my grandparents feel. I can in no way imagine how her loving parents are feeling. I can’t wait until I see them so I can wrap her mother up in a big hug.

I went shopping tonight and bought a new dress and shoes, all black. I didn’t expect that my next clothing purchase would be for such a sad event. Her funeral will be Monday and I am going to be there with my church family. We will help each other during such a sad, but meaningful event. She will be remembered with love and happiness.

I can’t wait until I get my hands on that picture of us in the hospital. I’ll hold on to it, as I already hold the memory in my head.

I can’t wait until I see you again, my lovely friend. I hope you are waiting at heaven’s gate, with a smile, a healthy body, and a fist bump to welcome me in.