I have a fan
Jeff plays hockey in a summer league. It’s just one night a week, Thursdays in fact, and I don’t begrudge him the joy that it brings him. He played Junior hockey when he was younger and injury-free, and I know that there will always be a part of him that wonders how far he could’ve gone if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Joining first the winter league and now the summer league has brought back some hockey joy to his life. I wish I could explain the look of anticipation he wears as he prepares for his games. His enormous hockey bag sits proudly in our hallway, packed with his gear. His stick is weekly made ready with new black tape. His determination is set. He will give his all on the ice, there will be no questioning that. He goes alone and returns with stories to tell. I can usually tell whether his team won or lost based solely on his demeanor when he returns. If he is near giddy, I can guarantee that his team not only won, but that he scored at least one nice goal as well.
This past Thursday, July 2, just so happened to be our 10 year wedding anniversary. I booked a hotel room in Toronto for the occasion, but I made the reservations for the day after our anniversary. I know how much these games mean to him, and he could still make his game that way. Let’s call that my gift to him, shall we?
When Thursday, our anniversary, came, so did my parents and my sister and my niece. They drove up from Illinois to spend some time with us and also to watch our kids so we could get away just the two of us. Sort of as an afterthought, Jeff and I realized I could also go to the game with him that night since my family would be at the house. This is something I have not been able to do yet, as I am pretty sure leaving my children home alone, sleeping or otherwise, is illegal or at least highly frowned upon.
The excitement in the car was evident as we drove to the arena. Jeff was all but bouncing in his seat. I’ve been married to this man for 10 years and I like to think I know him quite well. Hockey was on his mind and so we talked hockey the whole way there. As we walked into the arena and found out which rink he would be playing on, he turned back one last time before making his way to the dressing room.
“I have a fan!”, he said with school-boy excitement.
I smiled and assured him I was so glad to be there to see him play.
It wasn’t until I sat shivering and smiling down on him in my seat above the ice that I thought about the significance of what he had just communicated. “I have a fan”…Because I think that’s what marriage is all about…knowing, no matter what, that someone is in the stands cheering for you. Knowing that win or lose, you win with Someone. Knowing that you have a fan, a fan for life. We’ve been through a lot in the past ten years. I wouldn’t lie and pretend it’s all been easy, but knowing that Jeff’s been by my side, has made a huge difference. The world will never know whether Jeff could have made it all the way to the NHL, but that’s ok. He’s a superstar in my eyes, and he always will be. I may not always get to sit in the hockey rink, but I am always his biggest fan.