A Reminder of a Good Feeling...
At first glance he was an accomplished athlete, playing on a big stage...a very big stage...but then three goals later, a Loyola win, and a quick sideline reunion with parents and friends and he looked much different. We met in the tunnel, shook hands and talked very briefly. It was there, in the shadows of that infamous tunnel, that I noticed how young he was. He was just a kid. He was exactly the same age as his parents and I were in high school. I told his Mom and Dad much later how the meeting threw me. It staggered me a little and thrust me back twenty plus years to a high school hallway, or someone's Saturday garage party. He was just a kid...an infinitely successful and skilled kid, but a kid. We quickly exchanged pleasantries, and arranged to speak later this weekend to finish the story I was writing, then I walked up the tunnel and out into the bright sunshine of a pretty amazing day.
I've walked up that tunnel dozens of times, and each time I think I've taken the time before just a little more for granted...until today. Shaking hands with my friend's son in the belly of that incredible place, a place that embraces so many of my best memories, flipped me for an emotional hiccup. I tripped on the experience a little, and was happy to let Zach visit his friends and family while I wandered away more than a little in awe. The young man quickly creeping onto everyone's radar was, indeed, just a kid, and it struck me like a bolt of lightening how we, his parents and I, no longer were. This was my friend's child...a kid from back home, and I'd just spent the afternoon snapping photos of him for a magazine that would very likely print whatever words I gushed down on paper, words about a young man that I barely remembered as a baby that I'd never met. It felt like I was shaking hands with my entire past in that tunnel. I can't imagine how surreal the entire day must have been for Chris and Heather, how proud they must have been.
Sometimes we're not ready for the cycling of our own lives right before our eyes. Today was one of those days. As proud as you'd think I'd be for Zach, I was more proud of his Mom and Dad. When the universe blessed a nineteen year old girl with a son eighteen years ago she would never have imagined this. I met that same baby today in Michigan Stadium's tunnel, or it felt that way. Just a baby, on one of the biggest stages of his life.
Nice work today Zach. Congratulations Chris and Heather. It was a beautiful day to watch your life flash before your eyes.