Charlottesville: Loving Hard When It’s Hard

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241 years ago, our founders created a country based on the radical view that liberty was not doled out by a self-aggrandizing monarch but was an inalienable right. The heirs of that spirit of liberty fought a Civil War to protect it, to declare it sacrosanct.

80 years later, another generation volunteered in droves to safeguard that same spirit for men and women across the world that they had never met. They knew, perhaps better than anyone in history, that it wasn’t just the fate of the war that hinged on their utter selflessness. It was the fate of humanity. Read more...

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The Long Ride Home

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It’s 150 miles from here to Charlottesville.

I’ve done it often enough to know it takes two hours and 35 minutes to get from my front door to my seat in John Paul Jones Arena.  Five hours round-trip, give or take, depending on traffic and how many times I need to stop for coffee.

There are times when it seems longer than that — when we are mired in traffic, when we are racing against the clock to make it into our seats before tip-off, or on the long ride home after a late game on a Monday night.

Don’t worry — I am keenly aware it sounds crazy to have season tickets to a basketball team that plays 150 miles away and adds 3,000 miles to my odometer each year. Read more...

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Thankfulness

Tony Bennett UVA basketball

It is hard to watch your children do something that you know will hurt them, even if they love it more than anything in the world. It is hard to allow them the space to make their own choices, even if you know how those choices will turn out.

But a big part of parenting is doing just that. We spend so long believing that the hardest part of parenting is holding on.

Holding on to a newborn you are sure is going to slip from your clumsy hands. Holding on to your sanity as you fumble through the day on no sleep. Holding on to a spoon, slippery with mushy peas. Holding on to a toddler’s hand as they take wobbly steps. Holding on to art work and memories of misspoken words. Holding on until they are just a little older. Read more...

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Joy Comes in the Morning

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The night my father died, I did not sleep. My mind was humming with the kind of things you think about after your dad dies.  But mostly I was thinking about how to tell my children. How to tell them that everything had changed but that everything would be okay. How to counter the blows which their faith in God, still nascent and unquestioning, would suffer. How to protect their innocence, their joy.

I sat on a sofa, waiting for them to come around the corner. My 7 year was the first one down, his hair askew, holding his blanket around his neck like a superhero cape. The child whom, a few hours earlier, I had held while the paramedics tried to resuscitate my father. The child who believed the reassuring words I had whispered in his ear to muffle the sounds of the static on their radios. He rounded the corner cautiously, afraid of what he might find, yet positive, in the way that only a child can be, that there was a happy ending.  My 5 year old followed him, blissfully unaware that the world he knew when he fell asleep was no longer the same. Read more...

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The Big Dance

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Three years ago, Virginia basketball was headed for the NIT, another in a seemingly endless series of mediocre seasons ending in disappointment.

Exactly one year later, they were the ACC regular season and tournament champions and a Number 1 seed in the NCAAs.

So much can change in one year.

That season was magical. The kind of magic that you feel when you are a kid on Christmas morning. The kind of magic that makes you believe anything is possible.

We lost in the Sweet Sixteen that year, bounced early by a foe we never saw coming. A few months later, I lost my dad. Read more...

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54 seconds

For 39 minutes last Tuesday night, Virginia played its worst basketball of the season. For 39 minutes, they played like the team that had lost four games to unranked opponents.

Those losses stung. Losses always do. But what I told my boys – and I’m fairly certain I meant it – is that losses are okay, good even, if you can learn something from them. If they show you what your weaknesses are so you can figure out how to correct them.

I’d like to say I was just talking about basketball but I wasn’t. We all lose. We lose friends, we lose business deals, we lose arguments. Read more...

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Saturdays

Three weeks into the college football season and most Wahoos are already looking forward to the start of basketball (T minus 48 days in case you’re wondering). It’s always hard to be a UVA fan, but the last few years have stretched even the most faithful of us to our limits. On the other hand, I suspect the pharmaceutical industry is sending Coach London a big ol’ gift basket every week.

Indeed, many of the faithful, some who have been season ticket holders for 40 years, have just stopped going to games. Read more...

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The Moment When Everything Is Possible

Sunday morning I put on my lucky orange pants for the last time this season.  I didn’t know it at the time of course, although I had an inkling. That is, after all, the nature of the post-season – survive and advance or lose and go home.

One year ago, I stood in a similar stadium, watching Virginia play the very same team, and there wasn’t a single part of me that believed it would be the last time.  Hope is a funny thing that way.

But one year ago, I didn’t know what I do know. That you cannot will something to be simply because you believe.  One year ago, I hadn’t yet listened to the voices of the paramedics performing CPR on my dad.  I hadn’t held my child and told him everything was going to be okay, even though I knew it wasn’t.  In my head I knew.  But my heart still believed in the improbable.  As my brain was busy calculating the ugly logistics of death, my heart was exhilarating in the moment that was surely ahead of us when the doctors would joyfully tell us of the medical miracle that they had performed. Read more...

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Sometimes It’s More Than a Game: Why I Took My Kids Out of School for a Basketball Game

Someone gently reminded me the other day that I have been uncharacteristically quiet since Christmas.  And I gently reminded my friend that the Lucky Orange Pants have been busy with more important things.  Like basketball  season.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know that Virginia is one of two undefeated teams left in college basketball and ranked second in the country.

Second.  In the whole country.  For someone with a massive fear of heights, and a long memory of crashing and burning, this is a scary place to be. Read more...

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What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

Last week marked the official end to summer.   This was old news to many of us who said goodbye to summer weeks ago.  Perhaps at the exact moment we were photographing our children (looking the best they will look all year long) holding their Pinterest-inspired first day of school signs.  We have already grudgingly readjusted to the strictures of routine and schedule and simultaneously given up caring what they look like when they go to school.  Nearly one month in to the school year, my boys left the house looking as if they had not brushed their hair in 4 days.  And last week I let them wear stripes on stripes.  Don’t judge. Read more...

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Are You Ready for Some Football Part II: How Football Finally Made Me Cry

You can read Part I of the story here.

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried this summer.  I’m fine, remember?

I didn’t cry at my dad’s memorial service.  In fact, I reveled in the celebration of his life and took odd comfort in consoling the people who came and cried on my shoulder.

I didn’t cry as I spent 8 weeks living in my parents’ house, the house I grew up in, surrounded by his things. I looked at his clothes hanging in the closet, at his briefcase filled with law review articles, at the pictures of him scattered on tabletops and bookcases. I liked seeing those traces of him everywhere, as if he was about to bound through the doorway at any moment, ready to kiss my mom on the forehead and tell the boys a silly joke. Read more...

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Are You Ready for Some Football?: Love, loss, and America’s Game

After months of despondently pretending to care about tennis and golf and baseball while secretly watching reruns of the 1982 Peach Bowl on ESPN Classic, the drought is finally over.  With August comes a return to all that is good with the world.

Football.

I love everything about football.  College or NFL. Televised or live.  I love the play calls, the pageantry, the speculation over coaching hires and recruiting.  Most of all, I love being a fan. Since I was a little girl, I have loved my Giants and my Wahoos. But truthfully I will watch any game, any time, anywhere. Read more...

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Passion

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In the course of your life, there are certain moments that you remember as clearly as if they happened yesterday. Some are big moments, but most of them are small.  And this weekend, at Tony Bennett Basketball Camp, was one of those moments for Jack.  And for me.

But not for the reason you think.

Despite his most fervent desire, the idea that Jack would even be able to attend a college basketball camp was a stretch at best because of a rare disease no one has heard of (for more read here).  But this one – 2 half days with parents in attendance – seemed like the best shot we’d ever have to give him this dream.  Way too often in my younger life, I preemptively said no to things that I suspected I couldn’t do.  And that was the safe thing to be sure.  But I also regret that I didn’t just try some things, even if they would have ended up with me unable to walk for days. Read more...

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The Adventures of the Lucky Orange Pants (and the girl who wears them)

03 14 14_0001You might think, following UVA’s loss in the Sweet Sixteen, that I no longer consider my orange pants lucky. But you’d be dead wrong. 1. The Lucky Orange Pants have allowed you to witness firsthand my utter and obsessive three decades long love for my Wahoos.  It’s always been there – I’ve just kept it a secret because I want us to stay friends.

2. But the power of the Lucky Orange Pants extends far beyond my ridiculous and complex superstitions. They have co-opted friends and family into doing bizarre things, including but not limited to, wearing a pillow as a hat, rooting for our opponents, and almost naming a newborn after members of the team.  The power of the Lucky Orange Pants even got a Tech fan to wear orange pants on Friday night.
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