It is said things get better with time, time heals all wounds…well I can’t say that’s been my experience, quite the opposite in fact. Four years since you died, and my soul feels exceptionally tortured. I cannot say for sure, but it seems much more so than it did right afterwards because now, both the days leading up and the days afterward play in my mind like a scratched CD stuck repeating the same two seconds of a song, over and over again. I see myself going about the days, expecting them to be common, treating them as expected. I hear Adam tell me what happened like a distant story I shouldn’t be a part of. One moment I am walking the halls to chemistry lab, doing an early lift with the team in the weight room, walking the streets of campus, the next my life explodes…
I always enjoyed early lifts with the team. Though it was a battle to first get up and convince myself the blankets needed to come off, once I was in the weight room, I was into it. The feeling of getting some work in to start the day is a favorite of mine. This is where I was at coming back to my dorm, feeling fit and ready for the day. Had my recovery shake and everything. Before I could even swipe my ID to get in, the door was opened for me, but our dorm supervisor wasn’t offering a kind gesture of getting the door at 7:30 am in the morning. She says, “your Lauren Sajewich right?” Oh gosh. Immediately, the last 48 hours run through my mind, and I am combing through every minute for what I could possibly be in trouble for. A soft “yes” leaks from my mouth, and she responds, “we have your mom on the phone.” I am not sure I had time to formulate thoughts about what this meant. Or maybe I did and just resisted entertaining them because this could really only mean one thing, something bad has happened.
The phone feels like a hundred pounds in my hand. I get it to my ear and give a reluctant “hello?”
“Lauren?” My mom chokes between sobs.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…
“Dad is dead.”
My overwhelming desire to drop the phone and run out of the office as fast as possible drowned out the rest of the short conversation. From that moment on, it was a movie. I watched myself go to the counseling center and back to my dorm. I saw my coach running through the parking lot towards me with sincere and grave concern on his face. His puffy coat and beanie keeping the unusually cold March day at bay. The warmth of his embrace couldn’t calm my body’s incessant shaking. I went with him to the soccer office, hoping I wouldn’t see anyone on the team. My roommates walk out of the door as we arrive. They hold me close. I continue with my coach into his office, and he books a flight home for me that night. Afterwards, I get to go back to our dorm with my roommates. I’m hoping a hot shower will relieve the shaking. It doesn’t.
When I am finally in my room alone, I try to grasp all that has happened. Even with the door closed, I feel as though I am being intimately watched, monitored for what I might do next, how I might respond. It was me watching and monitoring.
Not too long after being in my room, the whole soccer team is piled into the small living space in our dorm. In an incredible act of love, they all circled around me, laid their hands on me and prayed. It was truly an astounding moment, despite the sorrowful circumstances. After we prayed together, they gave me a jar full of handwritten notes from each of them, offering comfort and encouragement. I couldn’t appreciate the beauty of all of this at the time, but I am so grateful for each and every one of those girls.
I was early for my flight, so I had some more time to think at the airport. I walked up and down the one terminal of Love Field, repeating in my head, “my dad is dead,” attempting to believe it was real and this all was actually happening. I would look around at people close by, thinking maybe they heard me. It felt like somehow they did, somehow they knew I was the girl who just lost her dad.
Before I could convince myself you might come back- that you were traveling again or that when I came back home you would be there, that you would be on the other end of the line when I called. One moment I am with you at home over winter break, the next I will never see you again on this side of heaven. Did you think of me before you left? If so, what did you think, what would you have wanted to say if you had the chance? Adam told me you were talking about having scored a goal…maybe that was for me, maybe that was the message that everything will be okay.