The One Who Isn’t Here

TD Garden Zamboni gate
The Zamboni gate at TD Garden – where Ryan got his ride 2 1/2 years ago.

I’m at TD Garden in Boston today, site of Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final between the Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. I’m here for work, which means I’m apart from my wife and children.

I’m not complaining. I am incredibly lucky to have a job in a field that I love that provides me opportunities like this one.

But being here today, I can’t help but think back to my last visit to this building, which was on a hockey trip with Ryan two and a half years ago. That was a special night. Ryan made some new friends, and ended the night with a Zamboni ride — one to which he applied his own special touch. When I walked by the Zamboni gate at the arena today, I paused for a moment to remember that night, watching him climb up on the machine and wondering if he would be OK on the ice without me. Would he bother the driver? Get upset? Want to get off? He was fine, of course. He had the out-of-town scores to observe.

Zamboni Ride
Getting ready for his post-game Zamboni ride in Boston. It was only 2 1/2 years ago but he looks sooooo much younger.

Looking back at the pictures from that trip, I can’t believe how much he has grown since the fall of 2010. In those shots, he looks like a child. Much to my chagrin, he’s starting to look like a young man. More than that, his development across all areas has been remarkable — social, intellectual, physical. Suffice it to say I wouldn’t have any of the same concerns today.

Mostly, being here without Ryan just makes me miss my family, but especially him. This is a hockey trip, after all, one without anything else to distract him from his obsessive interest. I can’t help but think how much fun he would have being here. I just hope that one day he is as lucky as I am and is able to find a profession that caters to his love for this sport that is as pure as anything I’ve ever seen.

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