I am a huge sports fan. Even more so, I am a huge Miami Dolphins fan. I grew up on the Dolphins. The golden era of Shula, Griese, and the Orange Bowl. The arrival of Dan Marino and the Marks Brothers. The heartbreaking losses in Super Bowls XVII and XIX. Those are all part of my childhood and the bedrock that makes me the fan I am today.
Alas to say dealing with heartbreak is part of being a Dolphins fan. Their last Super Bowl victory came a month before my first birthday. They haven’t been to the big game since the 1984 season. Their last trip to the AFC Championship? 1993. Along the way there have been memorable games, breathtaking wins, and, of course, heartbreaking losses. Coincidentally, the two that stand out in my mind both came in the playoffs and both were against the San Diego Chargers.
The first game was the classic Epic in Miami. It was January of 1982 and both teams played a slugfest that went into overtime. You remember that game: the sloppy field, the hook and lateral play, Kellen Winslow being carried off the field by his teammates. I was nine years old. I remember clutching my fists as I knelt in front of the TV. Following a legendary Miami comeback, I was absolutely sure they were going to win. They didn’t, losing in overtime. I was a wreck.
The second playoff game against the Bolts was in 1995. Miami lead San Diego 21-6 at the half. The Chargers roared back to take the lead. The game came down to a 48-yard field goal attempt by Pete Stoyanovich. I remember watching the game at a bar on Bourbon Street. I was so confident. Pete never misses from inside 50 yards. “We got this!” I said rather confidently to a patron standing next to me. I was 100% certain the Dolphins were going to win the game. When Stoyo’s kick sailed wide right – and it wasn’t even close – my heart sank in complete disbelief.
It’s rare to hear me say, “I’m absolutely positive” about anything in life. I’ve learned to withhold the final 1% of certainty and allow room, no matter how miniscule, for the improbable. Still, there I was in 2005 telling everyone I knew about how certain I was things were going to work out in the end. I was in a relationship I shouldn’t have been in. I was married. She was married. We were in love. And through it all, I was 1000% certain it was meant to be. We were perfect together. We were made for each other. We were soul mates.
Then the improbable – or from my perspective at the time, impossible – happened.
Long story short; after years of promising to choose me for our happily ever after, I was instead cast aside for the safety of the status quo. It was one of those, “The devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t know” situations. To say I was devastated would be an understatement. That moment was for me the event that shook me to my core.
*takes a deep breath*
I didn’t know where I was going to go with this entry when I started writing. I didn’t know what the ‘moral of the story’ would be. But, as I look at those events, now five years removed from my emotional ground zero, there is one thing that stands out. Time truly does heal all wounds and life does actually go on.
It just so happens I was sharing some parenting advice with a friend this evening. Her kid is having a tough time with peers at school, and I reminded her that getting through the tough times is what needs to happen in order to arrive at the great times. It’s just that all too often we can’t see the destination from where we stand today, especially when all we believed to be true is proven to be wrong. Still, as with those Dolphins teams in which I so passionately believed, there was always a next season. The promise of a brighter and better tomorrow is not a theory, it’s an eventuality. The trick is having the faith, patience, and courage to see it come to fruition.