Our son has played football since he was eight years old. Starting out as an "ankle-biter", he had a real affinity for the game. I still remember being amazed at how these fully padded little boys, who could barely sit still for anything else, had the discipline to be motionless before the ball was hiked. Every year, Josh was fortunately to be on teams with excellent coaches who taught him not only the game, but lesson that transcend sports: teamwork, do your best, never give up, how you play is more important than winning or losing, the little things matter, etc.
We were triply blessed to be part of this particular youth league as the kids and their families were all great. Relationships were forged over the tailgates held in the parking lot right after - hosted by grandparents of one of the boys. Josh was never shy about diving right into the food after a hard fought game, along with the other boys.
Because youth football teams are determined by weight, and since Josh was always bigger and heavier for his age, he would invariably have to lose some weight to stay with the same group of boys. I have vivid memories of the poor kid mowing the lawn in 90+ degrees in layers of clothing. Or going to the official weigh in a couple of hours early and running on the track dressed for a blizzard. Or looking at pizza - wishing so much that he could have a piece, while eating salad. Seems a bit cruel for a kid - I thought so too at the time, but he was willing to do these things to stay on the team.
Being at the football field last Sunday, on the 7 month anniversary of Josh's death, for the gathering at the newly planted tree with this group of boys and their parents was so special. It is times like these, when we see once again, that our Josh is so loved and missed by others, that our grieving hearts are encouraged.
We could not have gotten through the past months of shock, loss and pain if it were not for the love, support and prayers from friends in the community - both Josh's and ours. In the midst of it all, we feel so grateful. I will end this post with pictures from our gathering.
Josh's tree planted on the end of the football field.
Boys gathered around....
So many memories on this field.....
Josh - we all love and miss you and will remember you forever.....