There have unfortunately been a couple times in my life where I've been through wrenching emotion and out-of-body grief that seemed to liquidate my insides and leave me physically spent for days. But I never had to perform in front of millions when it happened...
Joannie Rochette unexpectedly lost her dearly-beloved mother two days before taking the ice at the Winter Olympics. How she found the mental discipline to shove the overwhelming pain back into a box for the duration of her program, I'll never know:
And when it's over, she crumbles and is then buoyed by her coach and her countrymen in the crowd. A lesson in love.
Why do I post about a woman I don't know, a woman simply competing in sport? Linda Holmes explains:
The end of her performance is perhaps the part I recognized the most: as soon as it's over and she's done, she again bursts into tears after holding it off the whole time. I know so many people who have been there, including me -- you hold it together all day until you walk through the door of your house and push it shut; you're fine until you get in the car and find yourself alone with the road; you're okay until somebody says, "Are you okay?" and then: sobs.
And I thought of people I know who do that today... of the people carrying on through this war with tears in their eyes, pain in their hearts... and steel in their spines.
Yes, it's "just a sport," and it's "just a (possible) medal." But as is the case with the best of sport, it's also more--it's about humanity and our incredible ability to hold each other up and overcome.