Miracles of ‘didn’t’

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The accident happened, as these things always do, simultaneously fast and oh-so-slow.

It was a beautiful autumn evening. The sun was bright in the sky in that almost-annoying way it always is right before it drops all too quickly to dusk this time of year. The air was cool but not too cold.

The boys were fanned out on the field in perfect formation. It was a perfect night for soccer. There was a thundering stampede of cleats and legs, a swish of the net and the resounding roar of the players and the crowd as our team shot one into the goal.

Amid the back slapping and general mayhem, we all failed to realize at first that the goalie was unmoving on the ground.

To be fair, this happens in soccer. Players go down. In a contact sport played without pads, injuries happen. I say this casually as if it does not concern me when, in fact, it most certainly does.

I feel certain that in the future my grandchildren, if I am so blessed, will be amazed that I let their parents play soccer without protective gear. At this point we appear to care more for their shins than their heads. Just as my generation pokes fun at our parents’ lack of car seat knowledge — “we just didn’t KNOW,” they say — so, too, will we have to answer for our general willingness to let our kids knock their heads together repeatedly sans helmet or pads.

Seeing a player prone on the field, particular in a high school game, is not unheard of. They usually rally, rouse themselves and rise, relatively unscathed, to the applause of the crowd.

This time the goalie did not move. One minute, two minutes, then five ticked by. Coaches and parents stood over the child.

Our team and his teammates gathered nervously in fidgety, huddled masses on the field. A doctor in the crowd strolled over and came away looking concerned.

As a breeze rustled the brilliant fall foliage, an ambulance drove down the hill and across the field. Properly braced and buckled, the player was loaded into the ambulance to be sped to a waiting hospital.

The boys left behind on the field shifted nervously, one foot to another, a backup goalie was pressed into play. The game must go on, after all.

Waiting and worry

All we could think of the remainder of the game was about that child taken away. As a collective, we hoped and prayed he would be OK. We badgered every fan who might know him, “had they heard anything yet?”

Of course it was much too soon. An evening in the ER is no picnic.

Still, we had to ask.

Waiting for word, I looked at the goals on either end of the field. Bare metal frames versus an unprotected player who is charged with blocking the ball? It is really no contest.

Meanwhile, we also received a text sent from our school. The freshman football team’s bus was involved in an accident. No injuries were reported, but the game had been canceled and the children would be returning to the school.

“Thank God for miracles,” we said.

Not long after, we also received word that the injured goalie was going to be fine. For this we thanked God again, although it is hard not to question why it happened at all?

I know of at least two situations where young drivers were involved in automobile accidents and walked away with injuries. I counseled one mother, still shaken after the accident in which her daughter was miraculously uninjured.

I told her, perhaps obnoxiously, that rather than bemoan the day of the accident as a “bad day,” we needed to rejoice it as a blessed one. Amid the crumpled wreckage, her daughter was unharmed.

Another family, dear friends of ours, would see both their sons in an accident two days later. One is on crutches now, yes, but he will eventually heal. Let me say thank God and Guardian Angels for their protection.

Recently, I find myself saying that an awful lot.

You have a right to believe whatever you do or do not, and I respect that. I know what I believe and I believe in being thankful. I believe that sometimes we have to be remember to be grateful for not only the good that did — despite the accidents — but the “much worse” that didn’t.

Every day I pray for comfort, health and safety. I know that sometimes believing in and experiencing that comes with a price to pay in “could’ve,” “would’ve” and “should’ve.” I know it’s tempting to question why bad things happen to good people.

I think it is also wise to be grateful, many times, for all the much worse things that could happen — and don’t.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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