My father had a habit of saying, “I ran into a teammate of yours” and made me guess who. I never quite understood why he didn’t just say who he ran into. Was it a Mr. Miyagi thing where he was teaching me something? I didn’t think so at the time. Now, I’m not so sure.
I was recently on Facebook when I read a post about the brother of a former teammate of mine. He had died of cancer. I didn’t really know him all that well. He was a quiet guy, who was about three or four years older than me. His brother Dan was my teammate and the news of his brother’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks.
Was it the shock of somebody being cut down in their relative prime by the insidious disease of cancer? Maybe. Was it because I knew how close Dan was to his brother based nothing on nothing more than my observations in high school and Dan’s Facebook posts. Perhaps.
Yet what I kept coming back to was one simple thought: Dan was my teammate and my teammate was now hurting.
That might sound a bit strange considering I really haven’t seen Dan that much since high school, with the exception of a reunion basketball game a few years ago. Yet what that game taught me was that the people who I called teammates have a special place in my heart. Always have and always will, no matter what the frequency of contact over the years.
Maybe that’s what Dad was trying to teach me. That that the people who I played sports with have a special place in my life. You didn’t necessarily have to be best of friends. But sharing a common goal gave us a bond that would last forever. As I have found with so many things, Dad was right.
So, I’m hurting for my teammate. And I have added his brother Robert as one more person who will join me on the Pan Mass Challenge in August.
I don’t know when the evil of cancer will stop claiming the lives of those we love. But I do know that only together, as teammates, can we beat it. And that happens one dollar at a time.
If you would like to be part of that team, please go to my Pan Mass Challenge page. Every cent is appreciated and a smile is guaranteed with your donation.