You probably heard that New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz went to the Newtown home of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Jack Pinto on Tuesday, and the more I think about that, the more my heart is breaking all over again (as if that's even possible). Not so much because of the incredible, humbling gesture that a big celebrity athlete did to honor and celebrate the life of an innocent, perfect little boy who was viciously ripped from this world. But because it makes it all too evident that Jack wasn't there. Cruz was only there because Jack wasn't. And Jack should have been there. It shouldn't have taken a horrific tragedy like this for a little boy to meet his sports hero. He should have been meeting him another way -- at the stadium after seeing a game with his dad, at a book signing, or at a sports store promotion. Not like this. Not like this, dear, sweet Jack Pinto.
Jack should have been there when Cruz walked into the door of his Newtown home with his girlfriend and their 11-month-old daughter to meet his parents, Dean and Tricia, and 11-year-old brother, Ben.
Cruz presented the gloves and cleats he dedicated to Jack in last Sunday's game on which he had written "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" and "my hero" to Ben. But it should have been Jack he gave them to, without the letters "R.I.P." They should not have been there.
It should have been Jack that sat on the family's couch playing the Madden NFL football game and talking with Cruz about "football or life in general."
It should have been Jack that played tag football with Cruz and members of the local Pop Warner team in the yard outside.
It should have been Jack's smile lighting up the room.
It should have been Jack's laugh resounding through the house.
It should have been Jack's big day.
I cannot image being Tricia Pinto during this visit with Cruz, I honestly don't know if I could take it, knowing it was me meeting my little boy's hero, and not my little boy. Jack wasn't there.
It sounds like it was a beautiful visit, and it was probably an amazing, healing experience for the family and a loving gesture on the part of Cruz, but part of it was so wrong.
Jack wasn't there. Jack wasn't there. None of them were.
Image via david_shankbone/Flickr