Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mourning in Play

Came home from the pool today and flipped on my Tivo which had kindly recorded the Netherlands v. Russia game from Euro Cup. Thank God. What a game.

So a few seconds in, the play guy points out that the Dutch team is wearing black armbands (they're the ones in Orange)



and it turns out they're doing so because on Wednesday, their teammate Khalid Boulahrouz's baby daughter was born prematurely and died.

He played in today's game.

Now, at first I was floored. No way in hell could I have played soccer (read: gone to my job) days after my daughter's death. But then I thought:

What would your husband's first day of work been like if total strangers had shown up at the hospital to show their support?

If 10 of the guys he works with (plus 8-10 more from the next-door office) wore armbands as a visible sign of mourning? The significance being that they viewed this death as important and sad, your grief as valid and significant, wanted to let you know they were thinking of you, and furthermore were thus willing to do so in public and answer any questions from anyone else who might ask about them?

I'm not real up of the present administrative state of US Hockey and Baseball, but I can tell you there is NO WAY an individual team at the last minute would have been able to make this kind of dramatic statement for their bereaved teammate in the NFL or NBA. The leagues don't allow for marring of the all important Uni (which I'm here to tell you, any one of which probably doesn't sell as well worlwide as, say, van Nistelrooy's) and league-wide symbols and team honorifics demand a ream of advance warning and bureaucracy.

Anyway. I thought it was nice.

And then Russia completely outplayed the Dutch and won, and frankly I was ok with that because dang, did they deserve it.

But Mr. Boulharouz and your wife? I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm so sorry you need to do this in such a public forum. I'm so sorry it happened while you were away from your home, and I'm guessing your doctors. But I'm so thankful that your husband's teammates wore black for the loss of your daughter today, and thus brought international light on what for many of us is a very hidden, lonely, invalidated, unsupported, blown off, and ignored experience. You're in my thoughts.

25 comments:

G said...

Wow. Just wow.

c. said...

OMG. That's beautiful. Just beautiful. And so sad.

Lisa b said...

wow.

Azaera said...

I can't imagine going through that in public. But kudos to the whole team we need more people in the world to be supportive and understanding like that.

CLC said...

My husband and I watched this game today and were in awe. We couldn't believe he was out there on the field, but we were so happy his teammates wore the armband to honor his daughter. I am glad you posted about it, I doubt many people in the US even know anything about it. I wish he and his wife didn't have to know this pain either.

debbie said...

we watched this game today, but didn't tune in until the end. I never even noticed the black arm bands. glad you did. what a nice gesture--and from men . . . I recently had a link on my blog about Demarcus Ware, an NFL football player who lost not one, but three babies (one miscarriage, one baby failed to develop kidneys,and one's heart stopped beating). The last baby died during the playoffs. I don't know what his teammates did for him in private, but there definitely wasn't a public display, at least not that I saw. Maybe others could take the lead from this amazingly thoughtful gesture.

luna said...

gotta love the dutch. thanks for posting about this. too bad the rest of the US wasn't glued to their TVs as in other parts of the world.

MsPrufrock said...

And thus another reason for me to adore you is born - you watch and enjoy football!

I read about this the other day, but I wasn't able to watch the match last night so I didn't know about the armbands. Generally speaking European teams tend to support their team members when a personal tragedy occurs. I think that's a wonderful, moving gesture.

Kymberli said...

I am amazed that he was able to play given the circumstance. What a show of support from his team.

loribeth said...

Wow, thanks for sharing that. What a lovely gesture for his teammates to make.

Bon said...

under my rock, i would never have heard of this. and i am so moved by the idea.

when i was a kid, a boy in my class - whose ancestry was Taiwanese, he was the only Asian kid in my grade here in whitebreadland - came to school with a black armband because his grandfather died. and i thought, oh how silly. how weird, to have that forced on you.

now, i think otherwise. and i wish we had some similar tradition.

Aurelia said...

Ditto what debbie said about Marcus Deware. The NY Times had a story about it.

And no the NFL did nothing about it. Kudos to soccer for having such class.

Anonymous said...

i had heard of the boularhouz's baby's death a few days ago, and heard that he wasn't going to play. then i saw him out there, and was equally floored -- i'm not sure i was able to walk two days after ruby died, much less kick a ball. i told carole the story, and about the armbands, and she said, "of course -- they're european." which i took to mean, they can talk about and share grief over such things, unlike the weird nation we live in.

i was rooting for the dutch before, and really wanted them to win after that. oh well -- russia outplayed them.

--shannon

Alice said...

I wanted the whole world to wear mourning for my daughter. Instead no-one said anything much at all - not even people in her family! I'll never forgive the world for the fact that they didn't think she mattered. So I'm really sorry for that guy but I'm glad that his loss was mourned in public. Thanks for the post.

Alice

janis said...

oh drats, this made me cry!
I think there was this story in "Swallowed by a Snake" about this father, who after he wins every game, whispers as he walks off the game, "Another score for you, baby.", to his deceased daughter.

Julia said...

I only saw the last part of the game, although I do have it on TiVo and plan on watching it sometime this week.
It must be so hard for them to be away from families, and doctors, and in front of the whole world. I am so glad his team was there for him, though. People making like A didn't exist/wasn't worth mentioning drove me nuts. I am glad they don't have to wonder.

iheartchocolate said...

Class indeed. So so heartbreaking.

hurts my heart.

Honey said...

oh that is awful too, but like you said how wonderful his 'collegues' were right there with him.
thank you

samill said...

Wow - what a story. Can't believe I totally missed this. Thanks for posting.

Sucks the dutch are out though.

mek said...

I like what you say here. My husband watched the game at our house too, and pointed this out to me, and I went through a similar sequence of thoughts and emotions.

I hope he got a chance to kick the hell out of that ball.

Kathy said...

Thank you so much for your comments on my blog and for sharing that story. So sad and yet so inpiring at the same time.

I love the analogy you made to how unlikely it would be for coworkers in a more "normal" work setting to do something like that for a colleague who had experienced the loss of a child or loved one.

My husband is a very private person, so I don't know what he would have thought if his coworkers wore armbands in honor of our daughter Molly the day he returned to the office after she died. However, I would have thought it was very nice.

Anyway, my heart goes out to him and his family and I applaud his team for showing their care and support pubically. As others have commented, it would be nice if others in the public eye, especially professional sports, would follow their lead in the future.

Beruriah said...

I am sorry this has to surprise us, this evidence that people care and notice. And I had no idea of the extent of Demarcus Deware's losses. Wow. I am so sad for all of us.

mattina di lunedi said...

I'm 'glad' that it's not just glossed over anymore. His daughter deserves the recognition that public mourning provides, and his family, too. When my son died, I wished that there was some outward sign of mourning that I could wear so that people would know without me having to tell them. I wish that more people were as understanding and supportive as this guy's teammates are.

Coggy said...

I was in mixed minds as to what I would have felt if my husband had decided to stay on and play after losing our daughter. I kept wondering if that is what I would have wanted. In the end though I think it was a wonderful tribute by the dutch team. I was a little saddened that the commentators didn't seem to acknowledge it on our commentary. It seems people are frightened of mentioning such sad things as babies dying.

On a footballing note, I wished the dutch had played football like their earlier matches. I really wanted them to go through. Anyhow, I will be rooting for Spain today.

Angelisa said...

I'm with Coggy...I heard this news from arriving in Europe and my first reaction to Mimmo was "How could he play?,"...then when I saw that they wore the black armbands, I too was touched...it was such a supportive gesture and yes, a wonderful tribute and recognition of his baby daughter(anonymous, trust me, not all europeans acknowledge baby deaths nor can they talk about them).

Also, 'cause I'm following Coggy here, FORZA ESPANA stasera!!!