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RICH THOMASELLI COMMENTARY: A HOLE IN OUR HEARTS

Losing The Rest Of The School Year Opens Floodgates Of Emotion

I am an emotional person.

Of course I am. I am Italian. What else would you expect?

I speak with my hands. I can convey agreement with a half-smile and a head nod. I can cast doubt with a perfectly arched eyebrow. My sarcasm is an eye roll; my joy is a bear hug and a kiss on the cheek.

And when I express heartbreak, there is no mistaking it. I double over slightly, not from pain in my stomach but this rather strange, almost ticklish feeling. It rises through my body into my chest. My face tightens. My breaths are quicker, deeper. My eyes well, never really turning into sobbing heaves, never filling enough to overflow and trickle down my cheeks, but certainly, undeniably, enough to say the obvious without words – I hurt.

This was one of those days where I spoke without speaking.

And I spoke of heartache.

Rich Thomaselli Commentary

Deep down, I suppose I knew, we all knew, that it was inevitable schools would remain closed for the rest of the year and that spring high school sports would be canceled in their entirety. But it’s like a death in the family – when it comes, you’re never really prepared. And when Gov. Cuomo made it official this afternoon, the body language – if not the actual language, some of it foul – said it all.

There’s something about sports for all of us that we likely never appreciated until this virus took it away from us on every single level imaginable, from T-ball to the Major Leagues, from CYO to the NBA. Sure, there are the league championships and the sectionals and, for a select few, state titles. But it’s oh so much more than that.

For many, it’s the camaraderie. It’s the shared brotherhood and sisterhood that have been stolen. The moments, the bonding, the laughs and, yes, the tears, that were taken away. The memories, especially. It is gut-wrenching.

Yet it’s more than just sports and it’s more than just high schools. My heart hurts especially for the seniors, who never got the chance to step on the playing field one more time, who won’t have a class trip, who likely won’t be able to walk in graduation, who didn’t get to strut their stuff in the school play. My heart hurts for college seniors, who also never got the chance to enjoy the final weeks and moments of the end of an era – a 17-year journey of schooling before moving on to their careers and their own families. My heart hurts for the eighth-grader likely deprived of graduation, the fifth-grader who won’t have a moving up ceremony, the kindergartner who will miss their own little celebration. My heart hurts for the teachers and administrators who have always thought of our kids as their kids.

And, yeah, my heart burns with anger at those dismissive people with their “It won’t be their first setback in life” or “It could be worse” attitude. Try rolling back in time to when you were a teenager and see how it feels.

This stings today, and it will sting tomorrow and the day after. And when we think the hurt is waning and going away, we will hit Memorial Day weekend and think of how we would have been deep into the sectional playoffs. And when that passes, and when we think it’s waning and going away again, we will hit those June weekends when states would have been going on. And when we think that is waning and going away, it will be graduation day and a lost chance to laugh, love, achieve, hug, cry tears of joy, and maybe say goodbye to some people that you know you just won’t see again or ever be that close to again.

Yes, my emotions have been on display all day today.

Even though I never said a word until now.

 

 

 

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