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The Big Game is more than a Game

 

1507760_896734047028178_7975437336775227726_nFootball has always been big here in this little town of Pittsfield, and this season it’s become even bigger. Our Huskies are about to face their Championship Game tomorrow night with an undefeated record behind them. To the Team, to the Community, to all of Us, it’s about more than the game.

Nolan decided to switch from Soccer to Football at the end of his 8th grade year. He had begun weight training with the Huskies and was drawn in by their camaraderie. He knew these boys were more than teammates, more than friends. They were brothers. They were so welcoming and inviting to Nolan. He wasn’t expecting that. He was anticipating the usual antics and hassling towards Freshmen. Those boys were nothing like that. They connected with Nolan and he fit right in from the beginning.

It broke something in all of us when Nolan died before he ever got to play on the field in an actual game. His death also created something. Nolan’s passing tightened the bonds of the Huskies bringing rise to their passion, perseverance, and endurance. Nolan’s passing brought them a mission. Their mission was to play this season for their fallen brother. Their mission was to play harder and fiercer for Nolan and to make Nolan proud. Let me tell you, they have done that and more.

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This story has captured everyone’s attention and touched our Community. Below I’ve put 2 links for a news story covering Nolan and the Huskies this season. Please take a few minutes to watch. It’s very touching.

**open link in new tab so you don’t lose me!**

http://wabi.tv/2014/11/03/nolan-berthelette-still-part-mci-football-program/

http://wabi.tv/2014/11/04/berthelette-continues-inspire-mci-football-part-2/

Are you still with me? The story gets better.  Meet our opponents in this Championship Game. The Bucksport Bucks, and they are no strangers to loss. They lost someone very special to them as well, Taylor Darveau. Taylor was a cheerleader for Bucksport and was killed last year in a Distracted Driving accident. Please take another minute to read more about this amazing connection.

http://pressbox.bangordailynews.com/2014/11/09/home/bucksport-mci-cope-with-tragedy-while-reaching-ltc-final/#.VF_JybbH-FI.facebook

Now we’re down to it. Two teams playing for their fallen mates. You couldn’t make this up. Well, maybe Hollywood could, but you and I couldn’t. It’s an incredible showdown in the making. These kids on both teams are an example of perseverance. They are an example of kinship. They are an example to all of us that there is more than a Game at hand. It doesn’t really matter who wins. Of course we’d love to see the Huskies go all the way. There’s a bigger picture here. All of these kids have lost some of their innocence. They know all too well that bad things happen to good kids. They’ve shown us how to stay strong and keep going. They’ve shown us how to hold each other up when we fall. I usually roll my eyes at the saying, but I’m using it here with all sincerity. No matter who gets the trophies at the end of the night, all these kids have won so much more than a Game.

3 Months “Since”

Nolan suffered his Aneurysm on July 18, at around 10:10 pm. He lacked any brain function at the time the neurosurgeon first checked him at 2am on July 19. There has to be a second evaluation for brain function at least 4 hours later before a person can be pronounced “Deceased”. I remember dreading 6am, knowing they would check again. I was able to put the doctors off until the afternoon of July 19, when I watched everything they did during the 2nd neurological evaluation. It was horrible, but I’m glad I stayed with him during that exam. It left no doubt in my mind that Nolan was already gone. So, in the late afternoon on July 19, Nolan was pronounced officially “Brain Dead” (although they had some kinder, fluffier term they used it means the same ugly thing). Because we chose to honor Nolan’s passing by saving as many other lives as we could, Nolan was kept on life support while transplant teams and recipients were gathered and prepared. He was taken into the operating room the night of July 20, and was finally taken off of life support in the wee morning hours of July 21.

Which date do you go by? Is it by the “official” time/date stamp on some stupid “official” certificate? Do we call it when his heart was removed from his body? It’s horrible. It’s more than just 1 day to survive each month. We have to survive 4 separate anniversary dates each month. Which do we pick as our own “Official?”

We (DH, me, and Little N) consider Nolan’s passing to be on July 18, 2014 at approximately 10:15pm. That’s when his heart stopped beating. That’s when his breathing stopped. CPR was able to keep his blood oxygenated, but he didn’t maintain a steady heartbeat again until he was somewhere between Pittsfield and Bangor on the Life Flight helicopter. By that point, we all knew he was gone. I knew before the 2 ambulances even got to the house that he wasn’t coming back. I knew. I just knew.

Because of the length of this ordeal, we have 4 days every month where we remember some part of the trauma more strongly. The night he “went down,” the day of his “official” date, the night he went into surgery, and the day he was taken off life support. I think this makes it even harder.

On October 18, I decided that I simply couldn’t handle this 3-month mark. I opened the door wide and invited Denial right in. I asked Denial to bring as many friends as he could to help pretend the night away. What I literally did was this (taken from my personal Facebook page):

3 months. I can’t do it, so I’m not going to. Here it is, this is my Bat Signal going up, rallying the Troops. I’m going to have a Denial Party at my house tonight because that is way more fun than a Pity Party. We’re going to pretend that everything is ok and that we can survive this. We’re going to pretend that Grief isn’t swallowing us all, and we’re going to pretend laughter comes easily. We’ll throw some carnage on the grill and pretend we still like to eat. If you can handle that (and some cocktails) come on over, bring your kids, a snack or drink, and we’ll open the door wide for Denial. Just for tonight. We can get back to Grieving tomorrow.

It worked. So many of our friends showed up with food in hand and a hug in their hearts to help us make it through the night. 10:15pm came and went without my noticing. Our house was filled with laughter just like “Before.” I couldn’t have managed that night without everyone surrounding me and helping me stand. Seriously. I am so thankful for everyone who answered the Call. So what happened when everyone went home?

It turns out Denial is a fickle son-of-a-bitch. That “F-er” left with everyone else. He left me stranded and alone at 3am. I am so lucky that my dearest friend, my Soul Sister, was staying the night. I crawled into bed with her, sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. She simply gave me tons of Reiki and love until I fell asleep.

The following few days were also horrendous. It’s funny how things only occur to you in hindsight that should be so obvious. It really wasn’t until I began writing about Nolan’s timeline that it dawned on me. You’re probably one step ahead of me at this point. No duh the next few days were so hard! I didn’t consciously think about each day’s representation, but my body knew. My heart knew. Now I know, and maybe next month will make more sense when I spend 4 days in bed crying.