Earlier this year during the seemingly never ending winter that continued well into March, we were informed that our 5-month-old daughter very likely had a sarcoma. The doctors and medical staff were so sure of what the diagnosis would be that we were given the names of the two types of sarcoma in order to psychologically prepare ourselves for the worst. Fortunately for us and Lindsay, they were all wrong and what looked like sarcoma was in fact a hemangioma with blood clots and spots that had calcified.
The two or so weeks surrounding that episode were easily the two worst I’ve had to endure. The best part of each day lasted about five seconds, from the moment I woke up each morning until the time it took my brain to register that fact that life was very fucked. Every other moment of every day was consumed by fear, anger, tears and worry.
Naturally at times like these one prioritizes and perhaps discovers (or re-discovers) what really matters in one’s life that helps put things into proper perspective; I was no different.
And yet through all of this I think I only missed one United match, an FA Cup match against Reading which was at the very beginning of our medical journey. In the midst of the worst of everything I recall an upcoming match (this also against Reading but in the Premiership) and thinking to myself “I need United to win today just to have something positive”. They beat Reading that day 1-0 in pretty unspectacular fashion, but for those two hours my mind was allowed to be distracted, where the main concern was “Are they going to hold on to this?” and not “What’s chemo going to do to my little girl’s brain?”.
There’s no doubt the dissatisfaction that was the loss to Real Madrid in Champions League was diffused by the acute awareness that this is just a game in which no lives are dependent (though arguably the ref’s may have been in a less civilized country, whose first name can be scrambled, or unscrambled you might say, to spell ‘Cuntey’).
But most of the time United is more than just a distraction, else how to explain the tears welling in my eyes two Sundays ago when Ferguson managed his last match at Old Trafford? Or all the times I awoke at 6:30 in the morning in a Chicago winter and rode my bike two miles into a headwind blasting out of Wisconsin to watch a match with a handful of likeminded brethren? Or the fact that just yesterday during a relatively meaningless match I told my son “I’m not listening to you, I’m watching the match”?
At the end of every season there’s always a void; it’s exactly the same feeling that my dad has when baseball season comes to an end. It’s sort of like “What the fuck am I going to do with myself for the next two and a half months?” Life undoubtedly goes on but it’s perhaps not as enjoyable while you wait for next season to begin.
But the end of this season is worse than normal because of the retirement of Ferguson, the only manager I and a whole lot of other fans have ever known. There’s a big question mark hanging over next season. And sure, I absolutely love watching the three weeks of the Tour de France, and I’ll watch the U.S. World Cup qualifiers (which is more of an obligation than an enjoyment), but it’s not the same. There’s no jumping out of my seat and losing my voice when Andy Schleck wins a stage or when Mark Cavendish wins a sprint, or when the U.S. just barely manages to hold on against some crap CONCACAF side.