I walk into a room arranged with flowers piling from floor to ceiling. Vibrant colours created by daisies, tulips, chrysanthemums, carnations, and gladiolas strike my eye. Walking to the front of the room, I am captured by a mural of doves setting flight into a picture blue sky. Behind them a tasteful rock waterfall gently flows; its relaxing tone setting a serene atmosphere.
I look for a coat-rack but find none. My eyes re-affix to the vivid floral collage. It is simply marvellous. Coat slung over shoulder, I reintroduce myself to Amy who lies tranquilly within arms reach.
She gives no response. But then again, how could she? I am speaking with the deceased.
I turn to find her mother sitting in the front pew. My arms stretch across her frame and embrace her with all the warmth I can muster. My tiny hands caress her back. I tell her how sorry I am for her untimely loss. She thanks me for coming. Where else could I possibly be? I shuffle to my right and greet Amy's brother. I am equally sorry for his loss. We lock hands in a deep shake and finish with a one-armed hug.
I take my seat a few seats down between my wife and her grandmother. I am now mesmerized by the waterfall trickling behind Amy's casket. The sound is so soothing, so safe, so warming. I wait for it to cease but it never does. I try to focus on the rhythm as its the only keeping me calm.
The ceremony starts.The lump in my throat is palpable. I am beyond uncomfortable.
The eulogist speaks fondly of Amy's life; one that was fulfilling, yet cut much too short. I am passed a box of Kleenex from my wife to hold in case others need it. She knows I'm going to need it but is being extremely polite about it.
To my far left I can hear my mother-in-law sniffling, trying her best to fight back the tears. To my far right, Amy's mom sobs inconsolably. I feel the bruise on my back forming in real time as I fidget uneasily in the front pew. Today I am family even thought I don't feel like it. I had only been acquainted with Amy a handful of times since my wife and I became an item and I truthfully don't know her that well. It is for that reason that I feel like a fake; a fraud in my own skin. I feel overwhelming sadness for a person I barely know. I cannot begin to comprehend how her immediate family and close friends must actually feel.
I continue to fight back the urge to cry. A friend of the family steps to the podium to deliver her fond memories of Amy's childhood. She begins to well up towards the end of her reading. I am crossing the threshold as my nose begins to drip. The Band Perry plays. I am past the point of no return. I weep uncontrollably. As the rock waterfall continues to trickle in the background of the funeral home so do my tear ducts for the dearly departed. I am instantly thankful for my wife's strategic placing of the Kleenex box.
At the end of service, all mourners are encouraged to come to the front of the room to pay respects to the family. As they make their way down the line with heavy hearts, my palms begin to sweat. I see the identical look on their faces as their bloodshot, watery eyes meet mine.
Who are you to be crying right now? Did you even know her? You are a impostor posing as bereaved family.
I feel meek and awkward while shaking their hands. But it is at this time I realize I weep not for Amy, I weep for them. For all those who knew her best. For those who laughed with her, for those who cried with her, for those who cared for her, for those who loved her. While burdened by the fact I won't be seeing Amy around the dinner table at Christmas anymore, I am hurt much deeper for those who have lost contact with her in their every day life. For her mother, her brother, her boyfriend, my wife.
The service is now complete and it is our time to be alone with Amy. My wife runs her fingers through her hair and caresses her cheek. She looks beautiful in her peaceful repose. My wife painfully says goodbye to a person who meant the world to her. I step back and allow her the time she needs. I start brainstorming ways that I can continue carrying on Amy's memory.
I thought long and hard about how I could relate this story to the Winnipeg Jets but the fact of the matter is I simply cannot. While they have been excruciatingly unwatchable, I feel it would be a great disservice to Amy for me to wax poetic about a team who has struggled mightily over a five game sample size in an article of this nature. So I decided to take this in a different direction than ones previous.
For the fourth straight year I am participating in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Ride for a Cure, aimed to raise funds and awareness for youth who are affected by Type 1 Diabetes. Amy was diagnosed with the disease in her early teens and it was the cause of her death on October 3, 2014. She was 26 years old. If you have the means, any donation you could make towards finding the cure to this condition would be greatly appreciated.
To Amy, we'll see you soon. May you fly with the angels until then.
Now, onto the Love Hate.
Three things I love this week
Some home-cooking: After starting the season on a three game road stretch, the Jets have been home for five straight including meetings with the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado Avalanche this week. Despite only scoring a combined two goals in tilts against the Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames, Winnipeg boasts an 11-5-2 record dating back to 2011-12 at home against the Canes, Bolts and Avs. Consider that reason for optimism.
Love for Lowry: Though he hasn't shown up much on the scoresheet for the Jets' this season, Adam Lowry has been a positive impact when on the ice posting a 57.7% Corsi rating when playing at full strength. He is second to only Blake Wheeler (58.6%) in this category. It's early in the season yet, but his defensive play along with his play away from the puck have been strong. If he can round out his offensive game through this season he will be reason for Jets' fans to get excited about the future.
Sophomore Scheifele: Mark Scheifele netted his first goal of the season last night and it was an absolute thing of beauty. He has looked poised and strong thus far and could be on the verge of a major breakout. Last season he marked nine points (4G, 5A) in 14 Tuesday night games and also managed four points (1G, 3A) in his four appearances against the Lightning and Avalanche.
Three things I hate this week
Blake Wheeler's mean streak: Don't get me wrong, I love cheering for players who hate to lose. Blake Wheeler is one of those players and he wears his emotions on the sleeve of the hockey sweater that dons his back. What I don't like is Wheeler participating in two fights through his first five games and taking a multitude of unnecessary penalties against the Flames. Wheeler is the team's leading scorer and is much more effective when putting pucks in the net as opposed to serving penalty minutes.
Slow starters: It has been a rather poor start to the season for team captain Andrew Ladd who only has one assist in his first five games. Last season he had ten points (3G, 7A) through the month of October and it looks like he will have a bit of work in front of them to hit that plateau again this season. In nine games he played last year against his next three opponents (CAR, TB, COL) he only managed four points. I expect the drought to continue.
Roster optimization: This has been a chief area of concerns for many Jets' pundits though the early stages of this year but there are no circumstances in which Matt Halischuk should be benched for both Chris Thorburn and Anthony Peluso. None. Period. The end. Close book. Light book on fire. Things become increasingly more frustrating when Thorburn is given a reoccurring role in the team's top nine forwards to compensate for injuries. No, just stop... you're doing it wrong. Unless you're openly tanking; in which case, touché.