Dear Sidney Crosby,
I read in the paper last week that you’ve encountered a setback on the road to recovery from your concussion. I knew that you’d been back on the ice with your teammates and that things were going pretty well. Then one day you pushed it a little too hard and unfortunately slid back into ‘symptom-land’. I felt really bad for you when I read the article because it seemed like you were getting there and it’s really hard to accept that you’re not. I feel your pain, believe me. I’ve been a regular visitor to the mysterious and unpredictable ‘symptom-land’ recently. I’m surprised I haven’t seen you there, as we have tended to arrive at the same time. Maybe you’re staying at a different hotel!
We’ve never met, you and I, although I feel like I know you because, well, you’re a famous Canadian hockey star. And I watched with pure joy as you scored the OT winner at the Olympics in Vancouver, which instantly and forever connected you with every beating Canadian heart alive at that moment. Thank you for that goal!
We did cross paths once though, quite literally in fact, after the closing ceremonies in Vancouver in the Athletes Village. I was walking to the food tent, you were walking back. Me, gushing in whispers to my BF that it was you. You, simply walking by nonchalantly with one of your teammates. Our jacket sleeves almost touched. Sorry if that sounded creepy.
I’ve followed the numerous updates on your status with more interest than I might normally have for a hockey player, partly because I’m a fan, but mostly because I know what you’re going through and I somehow take comfort in the fact that someone else out there is having a tough go with the old head. I feel less crazy knowing that someone like you is having setbacks like me.
Now it seems as though we are on the same path, albeit under somewhat different levels of scrutiny. Your every move is noted and analyzed in the hopes that you might be back to scoring goals ASAP. Me, not so much, although I do spend a fair bit of time scrutinizing myself and how I feel in the hopes that I might be back to something fun ASAP. It must have been disappointing for you to watch your team be eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs, but there is a little part of me that suspects that a little part of you felt a bit relieved that maybe now you can disappear to recover in peace and quiet.
I bet you love hockey a whole lot, and although I can’t relate to your life on most levels, I do understand the absolute joy of sport and love of competition quite intimately. I’ve been speed skating for as long as you’ve been alive! But the sheer injustice of having that yanked out from under you, and the pull of your heart to reach the pinnacle of what you are so passionate about halted in cold blood, that hurts. I know. But then, you’re young, you have so much time! And I’m glad for you that you are being smart about the whole thing, not rushing back to play and ‘be tough’. Your sport is unforgiving and brutal at times, and you are wise to recover fully before re-entering that arena.
Me, I don’t have so much time. To recover yes, of course I’ve got reams of time for that. But re-entering the arena, well, that I don’t know about. I’m old you know! I suppose there is some comfort in knowing that up until now I’ve had a pretty great go of it and I accomplished a great deal, much of which seemed unlikely at times. I sure miss it though. But then I miss just simply feeling good and normal even more.
Did you ever think it would take so long? I sure didn’t and somehow I doubt you did either. Being an athlete, it’s in your bones, and you just want to GO! It’s hard to have to stop. And when you start again and it feels okay you think, ‘alright, I’m getting there’ and it feels so great! Then you go a little longer next time, maybe just a tiny bit harder and bam, you’re right back to where you started.
I guess the thing about it is you just don’t know how it’s going to go. With anything really; life, sport, that play, that shot, that goal, that hit… I guess it keeps things interesting. The best we can do is remain hopeful that it will get better, that we’ll be back on the ice someday soon, ripping it up. As tough as it is, I like to think that I’ll come out of this somehow better than I went in. I don’t always believe that but knowing that eventually I will be fine is some consolation to the daily ups and downs.
Thanks for being such a great Canadian hero, for being a smart athlete and for helping me get through this tough time. Maybe we’ll cross paths again someday and be able to share a laugh or two over the ‘dark days’ of concussions and how great it is to be healthy.
I hope I don’t read any more articles about you in the paper about setbacks. I sincerely hope you are back on the ice soon feeling good and doing what you love to do.
p.s. I looked up your famous goal on you tube and found this gem. It’s just like it was being there. Look what you did for Canada!