Those of us who get sucked in and initiated into the cults masquerading as kids activities often refer to their fellow cult members as family. It’s a way of justifying drinking all that koolaid: “I’m not alone, look who else is here and they spend even more!”
But they truly do become your family. Their sons become our sons, their daughters our daughters. We share in the joy of their accomplishments and commiserate when they fall short. We prop our fellow parents up, too. More than once I’ve been the hockey mom, because the real mom was at a sibling’s activity. I cheered his perfect pass or pretty goal – and once risked my unhelmeted head on the bench icing a twisted knee. I’ve been the dance mom often, once on a competition weekend when the real mom gave birth to a new sibling. Cheering them all on, while in between numbers doing hair and makeup. Loved every minute of it.
The family is large and extended. You meet someone new with a child the same age as one of your own? Dance, hockey, baseball, soccer? Nods all around. Ah, yes. We know, we know.
The other day the hockey family was shaken by the news of a young man’s death. His name was Ian Jenkins and he was 15 years old – a goalie. I didn’t know the family personally, but #2 played against him back in squirts (that’s 5th grade for you non-hockey people). Ian was hanging out with a friend, doing what boys do. He jumped or fell off the back of a moving pick up truck and hit his head on the pavement, causing massive brain swelling. Emergency surgery didn’t help, and after a couple of days he was removed from life support. The end came, and his parents generously donated the gift of his organs.
All because of a silly decision. One instant that changed lives forever. Who among us didn’t make some really dumb decisions at that age? I know I did. Rode my horse without a helmet and took a pretty bad fall. Walked away with only a concussion, but never rode without a helmet again. Also rode around in the back of a pick up truck. Drove my car way to fast. And once, raced a train to an intersection. I vividly remember looking up as I crossed the tracks and the train was RIGHT THERE. Never, ever did I do that again. Just an instant in time that I ended up on the right side of. But for others, that instant goes the wrong way. The terrible way. And it scares me because I have a son exactly that age. Please God, do not let him fail in that instant. Keep him safe.
I tear up just writing this. What an absolutely gut wrenching, horrific thing for a family to go through. In one second you lose a son and brother. Everything changes. How do you go on from that? How do you find a reason to get up in the morning? My heart goes out to the Jenkins family, and I find some peace in knowing that they not only have each other, but also the entire hockey family who has rallied around them. A memorial game has already been planned for Ian, and his teammates plan to wear a patch on their jerseys next year in his memory.
I leave you with the following, which his father posted to his Facebook page shortly after Ian’s death:
News Regarding our Beloved Son…Ian Patrick Jenkins
Monday, May 23, 2011 at 1:42pm
As most of you now Ian battles HARD for EVERYTHING he does. He never gives up and pushes others to reach higher. He lives by the motto of H.A.P. (Have A Purpose) and has no patience for negativity. He believed that things were not over until it was over. He also believed life was special and that God gave him gifts to be great. Believe it or not it wasn’t all about hockey. He was not jaded and believed his gift was his wonderful soul. Ian cared about people that have beautiful souls and that ALL people need help in some special way. He has blessed many people and taught them that life is GRAND. He gave me a gift on the date of his accident (5-19-11…his sister’s birthday and btw if you add the numbers it equals 35) and that gift was his usual words when we got off the phone that ill fated afternoon. After our brief conversation about what time I was picking him up he said “I love you Dad!”. Those where his last words to me…’thank you Ian for that treasured gift.’ I would ask all of you to treat each other the way Ian treated people and that was with extreme kindness and not to judge harshly. If we ALL could lead our busy lives the way Ian did the world’s problems would disappear over-night. So with a broken heart I need to let you all know the final buzzer sounded for Ian at 7:54 this morning. He gave his hand to God and let the blessed surgeons harvest his organs to allow others to continue to experience the world he loved and cherished. Please reach out to my other three beautiful children (Lester Lancaster, Garrett and Cassidy) and let them know you love them and that they are not alone in their suffering.
God Bless, Ian’s Dad