I have a lasting memory from covering the Minnesota-Wisconsin football game in Madison Saturday night.
It has nothing to do with a play, with the celebration, really, even with football.
It had everything to do with the pregame Senior Day ceremony.
Like his other senior teammates and managers, Wisconsin’s right guard, Kyle Costigan, was honored on the field before the game started. His family was there, except for one – his Mother, Sandy.
Sandy Costigan has been battling kidney cancer for months. The family has even had to set up a website to help them assist with the mounting health care costs: http://www.gofundme.com/sandysangels. But at this point, the disease had progressed to the extent that attending a college football game would have been too much.
“He has done a fantastic job handling all this,” Head Coach Gary Andersen told me. “It’s something I don’t even know if I could have done.”
Kyle walked off the field after the pregame ceremony, with his family, all had tears streaming down their faces. I looked at Kyle’s hand, and he was holding a piece of paper. It was a hand-written note from his Mom. In it, she made sure to tell him how much she wanted to be there, how proud she was of him.
Kyle was wiping the tears from his eyes, staring at the ground, when his family put a cell phone in front of him. They had Facetimed Sandy Costigan, so she could see her son for a few moments before his final football game at Camp Randall.
When Kyle looked up and glanced at the phone screen, he broke down into more tears. “Mom, I love you so much, Mom. I love you so much.”
It was a moment I can’t get out of my mind.
Life doesn’t stop for much, but it did for me there.
To me, it showed the absolute conflict between joy and pain.
And the ultimate strength to continue to walk through it all.