What a day! As my husband's email he sent to our friends and family was entitled. "A Big Day, a REALLY Big Day"! Our "little" boy was playing football for the Fighting Irish in Notre Dame Stadium. As you can see, our "little" boy isn't quite so "little" any longer. He is a wonderful young man and a blessing to all who are lucky enough to share their lives with him. His mom included.
When Stevie ran out onto the field last Saturday I was speechless. Maybe not tearless, but definitely speechless. All I could do was sit in the stands and watch as my son lined up with the Fighting Irish football players to warm up for the annual Blue Gold Spring Football Game. How many years have we been watching this team, this school and these young men? My husband went to his first game in 1967. Growing up in a Catholic household, I don't remember ever NOT being a ND fan. It was definitely my 5 younger brothers dream, to attend ND. To play football for the Irish would have been just that much more icing on the cake. That dream sneaked into Stevie's young life when he was 4 or 5 and Saturday was the proof that dreams do come true with lots of dedication and hard work.
The only word I can think of to accurately describe the day is "surreal". We seemed to be in some kind of magical, suspended reality and I did not want it to end. I carefully memorized every detail and burned them into my memory bank to be played back at many later dates. When Stevie ran into position on the field he suddenly turned toward us and raised his arm in a celebratory salute, pointing at his family and friends as we cheered madly from the bleachers. That moment was caught on camera and is in the batch of photos I posted yesterday. When he ran back to the sidelines before the kick-off, Stevie took off his helmet, turned and gave us all a double thumbs up with the most brilliant smile racing across his elated face. I did not get that on camera but it is safely etched into my heart for now and always. When the team got off the bus to return to the locker room, Stevie stopped to greet us and take a quick picture or two. He even signed a couple of footballs and autographs for the next bunch of little boys dreaming about playing for the Irish someday. Looking around with a sheepish grin on his face he realized he was the only player out there and had better get into the locker room, quick!
As the day came to an end I sat with the knowledge that our son will grow bigger yet and grow older still. He will get his heart broken again and he will realize more long held dreams. Lots of life will happen to him and around him. He will find pain but he will experience much joy. I pray he will always be the happy -go- lucky, big hearted, compassionate and loving young man he is right this very minute. We are so very proud of him.
It was a Big day, a REALLY Big day!