Josh HamiltonAs you've probably heard by now, a great tragedy occurred last night at Rangers Ballpark when Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton tossed a foul ball to a hopeful fan named Shannon Stone, who then fell out of the stands to his death, trying to catch the ball for his 6-year-old son Cooper. Even more horrifying, Cooper was standing alongside his father in the stands and watched the fall occur.
Since I heard the heartbreaking story this morning, I've been sending good thoughts out into the universe to Cooper and his mother. However, I also can't shake some of the reactions that I've found bothersome. About Hamilton and his drug- and alcohol-riddled past. About his ability to get through this nightmare. About the possibility that he would slip back into his addiction over this.
First of all, when a tragic death of a loved one or another horrible tragedy occurs, why do people say about the surviving family members, "I don't know how he goes on" or "How does he get out of bed in the morning?"? It almost implies that the person has a choice in the matter. It also implies that maybe he shouldn't get through it -- that his only real choice would be to curl up and die. Now we know this is not what we're thinking when we say such things. We're really just expressing that it's hard to even fathom the pain and agony that the person is experiencing. However, to the person wading through the deep waters of the experience every day, it sure sounds differently. It begs the question, "Well, what the hell am I supposed to be doing?"
The tragedy that occurred last night is not Josh Hamilton's fault. It was an accident. A horrible, horrible inconceivable accident that we all wish hadn't occurred. Hamilton didn't do anything to cause this accident. The man reached for the ball and lost his balance. Simple as that. Terrifying and agonizing but simple. So while Hamilton is obviously very distraught at having witnessed the horror, it isn't something he can't or won't or shouldn't get through in time. And this goes for the discussions about his sobriety too.
If sober people must learn anything in their journey, it's that we CAN get through ANYTHING without using drugs or alcohol. I can't tell you how many sober friends have said to me: I can stay sober unless my mom/kid/husband dies or unless [insert most-feared terrible tragedy]. At the same time, I have seen many of the very same sober people get through very painful events without falling back on their addiction, without even thinking about it. In sobriety, you get to realize that drugs and alcohol don't really protect you from experiencing the painful things in life. They just put it off. Numb you out temporarily. Put off the inevitable. But in the end, you still have to deal with life on life's terms or completely ruin yourself if you are not willing.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Stone family, especially young Cooper, and to all the baseball players who are heartbroken over this unfathomable accident. However, we can go on in the face of tragedy. No matter what. Let's lift up those who are grieving or heartbroken until they can believe it, too.
Image via MLB.com