Three years ago, at CAHA, I was checked in the head. It resulted in one of the worst concussions I’d ever had.
My doctor asked me to think of my health, my future, and consider not playing hockey again. She didn’t say I couldn’t, she just asked that I think about it. She didn’t try to scare me into it, and she fully conceded that giving up such a large part of my life and my identity would not be easy.
I give a lot of credit to my doctor, because she actually got me to consider it. And it was not easy. And I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t walk away from all that hockey was to me with no notice.
I made a compromise. I stopped playing at higher levels of tournament hockey. I learned to protect myself more on the ice. And I told myself that if I ever got another concussion, I’d have to stop playing.
Last Friday, I got another concussion.
There is no second guessing this concussion. I repeated myself for hours. I remember none of what happened that night. I don’t remember ever setting foot on the ice. Aside from two people I waved at in the parking lot on my way in and my goalie, whom I had a conversation with before the game, I have no idea who was at the rink that day.
There is no, “Oh, but I would handle this play differently in the future.” I don’t know what the play was.
This was my last ever hockey game. I remember none of it. It’s probably better that way, because it makes leaving easier.
I’ve known for three years that this day was coming, and I have enjoyed the heck out of every moment on the ice since.
I am at peace with my decision.
That doesn’t mean I don’t cry every time I think about it. I’ll probably cry if you ask me about it, but don’t let that stop you. Grief is normal and necessary. Healthy, even.
I get to reinvent myself now.