“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another voice.”
Each year I reflect on the blessings that have come to pass. Leila continues to fuel my passion for gratitude. We passed the 8-year mark for being together and the lessons I learned from this child are countless as well as precious. I realize it is her presence in my life that brings life to my living. Over the years you have read about our adventures, the people who embraced us, the joie de vivre that is weaved through our daily living. This little being changed the course of my life and I can’t imagine what life would be without her. Yes, we have our moments; we have our disagreements; we have our struggles. Any of you reading this who has a relationship with another knows the challenges are what can bring you closer together, to understanding one another, and to understanding of self. And yes, sometimes relationships shift for the same reasons.
Leila’s presence in my life brings people back into my life that passed through when they were younger; she keeps the people I worked with in education in my life; the world of work is a part of my daily life and through work I am exposed to the broader community, which brings with it an understanding of how fortunate we are to live here; and most importantly, her presence in my life has me consciously choosing what is important – if it will make the world a better place for her, then the time is well spent, the decision is an investment in her future. Leila’s presence in my life keeps me connected to the cycle of life, children are still present – their innocence, their curiousity, their sense of play, their view of the world are gifts and reminders to be there for them.
This past week Sudbury Wolves Minor A Atom team participated in the Bell Capital Cup along with teams from across Canada and the US. 294 teams participated. The fact that Ottawa was the coldest capital in the world while we were there and one day only 5 degrees warmer than the North Pole (Leila was curious as to how Santa can live in these temperatures.) we walked away with a treasure chest of memories. The coaches and a few of the parents organized an agenda that kept us moving, so we wouldn’t notice the cold – lol. Leila played 4 games and in her first game, won the hardest working player for her team along with the team hard hat. She showed me her true grit. I was in awe of her. The fourth game was a nail biter, the team we played was undefeated – the Wolves tied them. The kids had Wolves pins to trade with the other teams; Leila collected 42 pins. Nick Foligno visited the team before their 3rd game. What a sweet man! The kids were absolutely thrilled. Leila has his autograph on her Bell Capital Cup hat, her blocker and a hockey card. She attended her first NHL game – Ottawa Senators vs. Columbus Blue Jackets. It was fabulous. Wait – they participated in a skills competition, had a team pizza party, and played laser tag. Imagine, I am still standing.
During this time, I was blessed with a number of experiences beyond what is mentioned above. Leila and I ate at Baton Rouge, Milestones, the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites in Kanata and the Irving Big Stop in Pembroke – reason I share this information is because the service in all four places was exemplary. Each server engaged us in conversation, checked in on us, and I appreciated how Leila was treated, she mattered. Strangers becoming friends in a short time, yes, I say friends, even though the likelihood of our paths crossing again is minimal. Why do I choose to use friends, because if I look at our short time together as meaningful my life becomes richer. When my life becomes richer, Leila’s life becomes richer.
Time away creates opportunities for the athletes to bond well. When they bond the team becomes stronger and it will show when they play. I watch how Leila’s teammates engage with her on and off the ice. All I can do is smile. On the ice, they praise her on good saves, they come over at the end of the game to tap her helmet and give team hugs, easy to do when all is going well. This group is there in the good times and the not-so good times. When the other team scores, one of the players is sure to come by to give her words of encouragement, this makes my heart happy. When the other team goes after Leila, her players are there to protect her, this makes me even more happy. No matter the outcome, they are there at the end of the game to let her know they appreciate her efforts. Off the ice, they play well together, inclusivity at its finest.
Time away also creates time for the parents to bond. I love this group of parents. I laugh a lot, learn so much from each of them. They are a helpful group of people. When I learned the timeline between the last game and the bus leaving the hotel for the Senators’ game, internally I panicked. How would Leila and I manage to get back in time? We are usually the last ones out of the change room. I was so worried I would hold them up. And then, there was Jason, another dad who showed up to help with Leila and carrying the equipment bag. Not only were we able to get back in time for Leila to shower we were even a bit early for the bus. They are a forgiving lot as well. I unintentionally held up the bus after the Senator’s game. My desire to ensure Leila had an official NHL puck got in the way of my senses. Once the MacIssac Family left with Leila to head back to the bus I knew I made an error. In the best of times I get lost even with a GPS in the car and on the phone, getting back to the bus without assistance would be a challenge. And so, much gratitude for Andrew’s forethought (one of the dads) in recognizing my ability to find my way back would be next to impossible so he came back for me. I am sure he realized how relieved I was to see him as soon as he saw my face. When we arrived at the bus the entire group greeted me with a raucous cheer. Their cheers eased my guilt, made me laugh and help to dissipate my embarrassment. The parents share words of encouragement with Leila and are definitely a critical component assisting her into growing into her potential. Never thought hockey would take over my life in this way; I can honestly tell you I am loving every minute. Okay not every minute, Leila’s hockey bag is either going to crush me or make me stronger and some days I am not sure which direction we are going.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
No resolutions for 2018 come to mind, except to continue to be grateful, love life, and be there for Leila. This morning I was writing a short journal entry when it dawned on me, my life lessons shared with the caring adults who took the time to guide me, my life experiences, and the choices along the way created a life that provides me the opportunity to support Leila to build a strong foundation. The lessons on finance from my dad and grandparents taught me to save so we are comfortable with the basic needs met and enough to explore passions – sports, music and travel. The life lessons on choosing what creates a better path for living – “Oh for the grace of God, go I.” The lessons of gratitude remind me what matters most. The relationship lessons – to those who I have hurt or wronged over the years, please forgive me, I am a better person than I was yesterday (I am trusting the universe to send you my love); to those who are reading this thank you for being a part of our lives.
Anna is a retired educator who is raising her young neice