Most would probably disagree the back row has the best seat. After all, the front row is where you can see everything. And, let’s face it, being on the front row, or in first class or front and center feels good. Or does it?
A couple of weeks ago, I had a back row seat. Or rather, I was in the back of a locker room in Philadelphia, PA with a bunch of excited, tired and sweaty hockey players. I had an opportunity to witness time stand still. I was tucked along the back wall of a crowded room with equipment, media, microphones and people scattered all around. I watched as one of our Dream Kid’s moment of meeting his sports hero came to life.
Zach Casillo, who is 14, battles every day – with more than a match with the rival team – he lives with a t-cell deficiency, POTS, a heart defect & chronic pneumonia. Because of these conditions, he is unable to participate in sports and the one he loves most is ice hockey.
Zach, typically more reserved, sat beside a 6’2” burly man from the Czech Republic (Jakub Voracek), and interacted with him like they had known each other forever. They talked about the ice, the upcoming game, Voracek’s hardest hit and what it was like to skate professionally for the very first time. They laughed. They bantered and then they laced up. Voracek took Zach out for some time on the ice. Just the two of them.
Everything stood still for a few moments and there seemed to be nothing else going on except for time between a man from Czech who plays hockey and a boy from South Carolina who loves hockey. A common interest. A quick bond. A moment that you just couldn’t get enough of.
These fast friends really enjoyed one another’s company and seemed to want more time together. In fact, Voracek made it a point to invite Zach back to the locker room after the next game for some more time to hang out.
In those brief moments I watched. Paralyzed with emotion. You know the kind that sits right there lodged in the back of your throat that makes you unable to speak. I tried to somehow permanently stamp the moment into my brain because it was good. It was genuine. It was a gift for all of us.
As I stood along the back row I saw the smile on Zach’s face, heard the laughter in Voracek’s voice, watched Zach’s mom look on with pride from the side of the room, saw his brother standing quietly beside Zach, star struck, and Zach’s dad beside him grinning from ear to ear. All of us were hanging on to a conversation between the boy and the man who both love the ice but are on different paths. I realized God was in each detail and what it must be like for parents to watch from the back row, with the very best seat and with ultimate joy.