Season of Compassion
Praying from the Field
article by Cindy G Foust
Happy Fall, BayouLife readers…I hope your days have been filled with some cooler air during this back to school time. I, for one, am enjoying a relaxing morning sitting on back porch, writing my column, watching our pet donkey, Glen. Well, he’s not really “our” pet donkey, he’s my neighbors, and his name is actually Annabelle, because she’s a girl, but we named him/her that because my cousin “Glen” made fun of us for having a donkey in the first place. Yep, starting early this month chasing that rabbit.
I bounce around a lot some months, with my thoughts, which I know that’s hard for my readers who follow me every month to believe. I go from happy to sad to lecturesome (that’s a word for lecturing sometimes, and I think Dr. Seuss would approve). Oh, I do my best not to sound like I’m standing in the pulpit, but sometimes, when I’m inspired to do so, I find myself writing about things that I have been convicted of. Most of the time, like this month, I hope you believe me when I say I am usually talking to myself. With those qualifying statements, I will face plant us right square in the middle of this month’s column.
I know this community is fully aware of the tragedy suffered a few weeks ago at Sterlington High School, with the tragic loss of a Franklin High School football player. I want to start by saying that I did not know this young man, although, after reading many tributes to him, I wish I had. As many of you probably also read, Tyrell Cameron clearly had a very bright future in front of him. I will say by looking at the pictures of him, he certainly had the brightest, sweetest smile that probably lit up every room he ever walked into. When the news of his death reached our family, shortly after I watched my own son and his teammates saunter off the field, I could do nothing more than sit in my chair, in the privacy of my living room, and squall. (Squall…now there’s a word you don’t hear much, unless someone peels out of your street and they squall their tires.) But for this occasion, in this instance, the only appropriate word I can think of is squall. I know I joined hundreds, potentially thousands of other parents, who sat dumbfounded, and questioned their parenting skills, because like Scott and me, we allow our children to engage in the same sport, day in and day out. My heart ached for his parents, his siblings, his family and friends. I grieved for the opposing team. I tried to wrap my mind around the inconceivable burden the coaches, for both sides, had to bear. Quite frankly, it broke me. After I somewhat came through my fog, my mind went to the stands that we all sit in every week and cheer our children, grandchildren, family and friends on in. The realization came quickly that this could happen anytime, anywhere, any week. It doesn’t have to be high school…football games begin at the youngest of ages now, starting at the tender age of five, and ending, well, just whenever an NFL player gets tired…or hurt. It’s a scenario that certainly no ever ever expects, nor wants to see. Whether you follow a college team closely and tailgate before you cheer them on, or as importantly, you stand on the sidelines and think your flag football star is the most gifted “player” to ever grace the flag football field, the chances this might happen is certainly there, especially after they start contact play. I have to admit that night (and my 17-year old son would likely be a little more than embarrassed for me to share this, although he has absolutely no idea I did it), I crept into his room and laid on the floor beside his bed and listened to him breathe. I considered that moment in my life to be a privilege. Then I sat up on my knees and laid my hand on his back…he stirred ever so slightly…and I prayed as fervently and gratefully as I could. That, too, was a privilege. I then crawled from the room (quite a sight for a 49-year old mother of three) and sat on my staircase and prayed for Tyrell, his family, his team, his coaches, his opponents, his community. Again, a distinct privilege. Because we all, my family and I most certainly included, find ourselves getting so caught up in who’s getting to play, or who’s getting to start or who’s getting the action, and we berate the coaches, and make ourselves the “couch coaches” (I know this phrase will likely catch on with coaches across America), we forget the harsh reality that none of that really makes a hill of squat. Nope, as painful as this is for fans to swallow, none of it matters in the grand scheme of things. The only things that does matter, (well, except to Vince Lombardi who famously said “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” he would probably disagree with this), is that players, no matter their level of play, from PeeWee to NFL, enter and exit the field, as safely as possible. I know what you are thinking, right? Football players (and incidentally, accidents happen in every sport, not just football), get banged and bruised up every week, my son has suffered his share, and it’s a chance they take every time they take the field. But the most important thing, above all else, should be their safety. I know there is no way to guarantee that, and this column might well sound like the raving musings of a football mom, but the message should be loud and clear, more important than any nuance we might have, and that is the safety of the players is first. Accidents happen every day, in every walk of life, both on and off the football field. Tyrell’s accident is inconceivable, unbelievable, but it was just that, an accident. And as I have witnessed over the last few weeks, our community, his community, has wrapped their arms around his family. I squalled yet again watching Sterlington High School, and other area teams join Franklin High School in honor of Tyrell and to support them as they try, somehow, to bravely face the rest of this season without him…but yet, in honor of him. I have too lost a child, so my heart and soul aches for Tyrell’s parents, his family, his friends, his team. So much so, that I would encourage each of our readers, whether they know Tyrell’s family or not, to reach out to them, even through just a simple note. Trust me that something that simple will literally be the blanket of comfort that will sustain them in the days ahead. And prayers, every time you think of them, lift them up. Yes, it is without a doubt a devastating, somber way to start the season that many people, including myself, usually look forward to every year. In light of this tragedy, however, it can also be a season of compassion and humanity, as we disengage from those things that seemed so important at the time, and reach out to a family who needs our support. It is, in my humble opinion, the simplest, yet most meaningful way to act as the pillar of strength that Tyrell’s family so desperately needs.