A certain amount of luck and a random act of kindness landed me a seat exactly one row behind the Penguins bench at Monday night’s big game.
And this was not just any hockey game, as we all know. Monday night marked the epic return of Sid the Kid—the great Sidney Crosby—after a 10-month absence spawned by a severe head injury.
Before I delve into this column, I want to first give some mad props to the sports columnists out there who cover these historical games, because I am having a little trouble moving past the following phrases: “Oh my God. Did that just happen? Did we just see that? Was Sidney Crosby seriously two feet away from me? Wow. Oh, wow.” Bear with me. We’re going to get through this. I’ll take it from the top.
On Friday, I spent $10 on a raffle ticket for two club level seats to last night’s game. When I discovered that I had won, I thought, “I don’t win things. This rocks. Two Penguins tickets—cool!”
On Sunday, those Penguins tickets became about a trillion times more cool when I discovered via Twitter that Sid was making his big comeback the same night. I had to hold myself back from jumping for joy at the gym. How do you win tickets to a game like that through a raffle? It’s just crazy talk.
As we entered the gates at the Consol Energy Center, the joy was palpable. I couldn’t stop smiling (neither could anyone else) as they handed out thousands of signs that read, “Welcome Back, Sid,” and I thought to myself, “I am so happy for him.” Because I am—and so is the entire city. It’s that simple. I am so happy for Sidney Crosby that he can get back to what he loves to do more than anything on earth.
Cut to the second intermission of the big game and a random guy comes up to us, makes small talk and then says in a perfect Pittsburgh accent, “Ya know, I am only doin’ this ‘coz it’s Thanksgiving, but I am moving up to these seats ‘coz my buddy left. Why don’t you guys go down to my two seats in the second row?”
My initial response was silence. Was this guy for real?
We made our way down to the second row, just a few feet from where Crosby was sitting on the bench. I could barely function. It’s really hard to pay attention to the rest of a game when one of the greatest hockey players in history is that close to you. I could not believe that a complete stranger basically gave me a once in a lifetime memory that I will never forget.
And when we sat there in the middle of the action, I saw Sid and his fellow teammates talking, smiling, enjoying the moment. And then, I was even more happy for him.
Imagine waking up tomorrow and having someone tell you that for the next 10 months—and maybe forever—you will not be able to do what you love—to do what you have been doing since you were a child.
I thought about the fact that I am truly thankful—during this week of Thanksgiving—to even get paid to write, to have the opportunity to have a job that I love in this very moment when so many people are struggling in this economy.
I thought about the fact that our talents truly are gifts—and they—along with friends, family and loved ones—can be taken away at any given moment.
Everyday snapshots of life are the ones worth mentioning and the ones worth savoring—including ones like Sid’s return Monday night—a return that potentially could have never happened.
Not one of us is entitled to good health, good fortune, good friends or good family—and yet most of us enjoy these simple luxuries every single day. Sid was lucky enough to get a second chance to live out the rest of his dream.
So, this week, we give thanks for a lot of things, including amazing hockey seats from a kind stranger, including Sid’s safe and successful return—and this week I think, life is good, God is great, and sometimes a simple game can make you remember what’s important at the end of the day.
This column originally appeared on Forest Hills-Regent Square Patch.