The glue guy is easily one of my favorite sports’ monikers. He is the guy who doesn’t usually fill the stat sheets or make the flashy plays. He’s not usually the fastest, biggest, or most skilled guy on the team. He does the intangible little things. He’s the guy diving on the floor for loose balls, finishing checks, or breaking up double plays. His presence alone changes the dynamic of the team and his value is immeasurable. It’s hard to describe why they’re so valuable but most people, especially their teammates, value their importance. Every successful team has at least one and a few of my favorite (and homer) examples are Dave “The Rat” Bolland of the Blackhawks, Joakim Noah of the Bulls, A.J. Pierzynski of the Whitesox, and Danny “Danno” Tobin.
Danno. Dan-o-mite. The Rooster. Thunder Thighs. Gummy Bear. Danny is 9 months old, looks like he’s 14 months old, and is quick to flash his toothless smile. Our little Gummy Bear has been a supernova of light and love during the darkest and most depressing five and half months of our lives. Whenever I felt like I was coming unglued I’d grab my guy Danno and hold him for hours.
But that wouldn’t always help. In fact, it sometimes made it worse for me. I found myself almost avoiding him immediately following Charlie’s death. All I saw in Danny’s face was Charlie. All I thought about as I was holding him was Charlie. It was difficult for me to hold him because of this. Before Charlie passed away, I remember telling Vanessa and my Aunt Jane how afraid I was of loving Charlie more than Danny because at that point I did. I was so immersed into my relationship with my fast talking, athletic, and sweet 2 year 10 month old that I didn’t put half the effort into my 4 month old sleeping and eating machine. I was almost bored with the four month old b/c they don’t do much. I struggled with my guilt then but it blew up after Charlie went to heaven. The guilt has since subsided greatly and has been replaced with a feeling of pity for Danny. Dan is being cheated out of a loving, protective, and tender older brother. He was also,and still sometimes is, being cheated out of having a completely devoted dad instead of having one consumed with the death of his oldest son. (I know most of you think that I am a completely devoted dad but the truth of the matter is I’ve been incapable of completely giving myself as I did once before my world got knocked of its axis. I try everyday and I’ve definitely made progress but I know I will never fully heal. I have hope that I’ll get close but this is something someone never “gets over” in their lifetime. It’s also something that I feel most people who have not lost a child do not understand. I will never “get over” Charlie going to heaven. I don’t know. I just miss Charlie so much. I can’t explain it any other way.)
But through all of this sadness and despair we’ve had a teammate pushing us from behind, helping us up off the floor, and agitating our opponent. Darkness has to deal with our feisty Dan-o-mite! He’s developing into quite the charmer. He and his older brother were definitely cut from the same cloth, as they say. Just this morning we had two different people ask us, “Is he always this happy?” Which, I feel, speaks volumes about our Gummy Bear. He is always happy, smiling, and babbling with people. Babies are living and breathing emotional radars. They can pick up on the mood of their parents based on their heartbeat alone. So I know they can sense if their dad is uncontrollably sobbing while he’s trying to rock him to sleep or when their mom starts weeping while playing peek-a-boo with him. Which is why I’m just amazed at how Danny, a baby who’s been surrounded by the grief and sorrow of the worst kind of loss, can still be a beacon of happiness and love. He’s sticking his hockey stick into darkness’ eye provoking a fight. He’s taking that game changing charge late in the 4th quarter of a tied game. He’s a momentum changer. He gives us that spark. The unexplainable boost that glue guys provide their teams in their most desperate times.
Right now Vanessa and I, along with our family and friends who I know are suffering watching us go through this, have our backs up against the wall. It’s game seven. Our opponent, darkness, has a near perfect record. But he’s NOT perfect. It’s been done before. And that’s what is keeping us chugging along. We have your support. We have faith. We have hope. We have undying love for each other We have our glue guy. We have Danno!