[I was finishing up this entry when I read Brian’s first post of the season preview on the front page – sorry for a bit of redundancy. But, I figure, if we can have 24 posts on whether DG should redshirt or not, another one on Brock isn’t a cardinal sin.]
I distinctly remember wading through the rabble on the rivals board and seeing a post about a recruit being in a serious car crash. I immediately remembered Elliot as the o-line recruit who'd always been a huge OSU fan. Since that Dec '07 day, I've followed the Mealers' story closely. Even before it hit the MSM, the story was captivating for so many reasons long: Devastating crash on the way to midnight mass. Big, strong guys in a SUV taken out by a 90 year-old running a stop sign. Losing his dad and the girl who'd captured his heart and helped him find new direction in life. Brother paralyzed from the waist down. Jacked up shoulder from trying to lift the vehicle. Ridiculous tragedy for a high school senior – when it seemed like he was on top of the world. I'm not going to lie – I cried that first time I read the story in the small town paper…and I've teared up every time I've seen a Mealer story since then. Who knows what I'll do in the big house Saturday…
I've been thinking about that walk from the tunnel to the banner for several weeks now. My 18 year-old nephew's never been to a game; I couldn't think of a better time to take him. My wife's upset she's not going to be there to see it. I told her she has to stay home to see if ESPN does it justice. Though I'm not sure anyone can truly capture it. A few Michigan metaphors alone immediately come to mind:
- Past: Born and raised a buckeye, Ohio educated, 4 years at OSU…then came to UM to rehabilitate something that had been in shambles (Bo – UM football; Brock – his legs)
- Present: At first, some critics didn't think it could/should be done; purpose and resolve won out; past few years under construction (Michigan stadium renovation; Brock's attempt to walk)
- Future: If the team can experience some semblance of success this year, next year and beyond could be truly special. Brock's journey would be a fitting metaphor for the Rodriguez tenure.
Every once in awhile, you get a glimpse of something that seems to 'put the pieces together'. It hints at the meaning of it all, or sheds light on some arcane truth. The ironic thing is the people in the middle of it rarely understand the magnitude of their experience. They may know it's big, but they don't know why or how it's happening. They're overwhelmed by the closeness of it all. The emotions. It's changing their lives as they know them. But, so often, it changes the lives of people on the outside as well.
I don't want to undermine it by going all hyperbole here, but the Mealers' story provides amazing perspective…which I need more of every day, especially when I'm losing sleep each time we lose a CB to transfer, injury, or idiocy.
Brock's journey has provided so many poignant lessons on perspective: He's consistently treated himself as an overcomer and not as a victim; through hard work and perseverance he's done what was seemingly impossible; there is real power in positive attitude; faith can move mountains; and when one man can persevere through a personal tragedy, it can become a collective triumph.
Bottom-line: the Mealers have lived through more devastating life events than most of us can even worry about. What I truly appreciate about their story, and Brock's specifically, is that it reminds us that sport is not the most important thing in the world. But it has its place; it can bring us together, help us work through adversity, and even distract us from life's pains. And their story teaches us that if real life becomes horrible, there's still hope… with the right perspective and perseverance, we can all overcome.
Saturday, Brock walks again.