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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Year Later

I wrote this last year for the Houma Courier's Guest Column page.  I thought it would be nice to honor these outstanding young people on the anniversary of their passing. 

Prayers for VCH

I have not been nearly as productive at work as I should, have been in an uncharacteristically quiet mood, and I have not slept well for the past five days.

I did not know them.  However, I have not been able to get Ian Haydel, Gabby Hebert, T.J. Cantrelle, and Megan Hitt off of my mind.  The taking of these four young, intelligent, and glowingly personable individuals is a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.  It is one that will shake the strongest man to his very soul, make the toughest man well up and cry.  As a former high school teacher and coach, one who truly enjoys working with young people and seeing them grow and mature, the tragic events of Sunday morning have really made me wonder.  Every time a young person leaves this earth too soon, it leaves you asking, “Why?”  In this case, that question is resonating through every person in South Louisiana.  “Why would God take them now?”

When something like this happens, obviously the first thing that comes to mind is unimaginable sadness.  Sorrow not only for the kids, but for the friends, family, and especially the parents.  The grief that these parents are going through can not ever be understood by someone who has not experienced a tragedy such as this.  They call a woman who loses a husband a widow, a husband who loses a wife a widower, and a child who loses a parent an orphan.  However, there is no word for a parent who loses a child, because that loss is too great for words.  I know there is nothing that anyone can do to ease the sting of your loss, but to those grieving parents, know that this entire community is here to support you.  Your children are an important part of this community, and they always will be.  They have touched many lives, and that is obvious to everyone, even a stranger such as me.  It must be nearly impossible to not ask, “Why would God take my baby from me?”

The second thing that I think of in such circumstances are the friends that I have lost much too soon.  I think about Keon, a high school teammate of mine who always had a smile on his face and kept us laughing during the hottest days of practice.  I think of Jonathan, a great friend who took care of me throughout high school like an older brother, who died in a car accident in 2003.  My beautiful friend and neighbor Nicole, who passed away much too young because of medical problems about 5 years ago.  When I think of these people, I tend to start off thinking about the sadness of losing them, before eventually moving on to thinking about the good times that we had together.  I think that is natural progression:  Sadness at first, but always ending in fondness and good memories.  Despite the wonderful memories, I still find myself asking, “Why would God take my friends away from me?”

Lastly, and most importantly, I become more appreciative of the things I have in life.  I challenge you to go play golf with your brother.  Have dinner with your sister.  Call an old friend who you haven’t talked to in way too long.  Hug your kids, your parents, your spouses.  They say that every cloud has a silver lining.  This is, without doubt, about as dark of a cloud as could be imagined.  It is hard to see anything good come of this tragedy.  However, I do not think that Ian, Megan, T.J., and Gabby would want everyone to stay sorrowful for long.  Cherish their memories.  Celebrate their lives.  Use their untimely passing as way to better yourself as a person, and in turn, better this community in which we live and the lives of others.  That is what they want us to do.  Respond to this adversity by becoming better people, people who can slow down and appreciate the things that we are so lucky to have in this life.  Even so, doubt creeps in and it is hard not to ask, “Why wouldn’t God allow these wonderful people to finish their life’s work?”

On September 3rd, T.J. Cantrelle, with safety Ian Haydel on the sidelines, and Megan Hitt and Gabby Hebert cheering the Terriers on, led his team to a thrilling comeback over rival E.D. White, directing two scoring drives in the final 30 seconds of the game.  It was about as improbable a victory, some would say borderline divine, as one could imagine.  This was especially true since the young quarterback was not supposed to play at all due to a badly sprained ankle. After the game, Cantrelle was asked about the improbable comeback as well as his balky ankle.

 “I will never doubt God again,” was his reply.

I guess if T.J. doesn’t doubt Him, I suppose we shouldn’t either.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Let the Games Begin!

Sound the horns!  Roll out the red carpet!  Bring to me all of your finest meats, cheeses, and ice cold beers!
The King hath returned.
The king of American sports that is – The National.  Football.  League.  It’s true, after 133 days of conversation, negotiation, litigation, and watching re-runs of Californication, the NFL is back in business.  Players were hugging owners, owners were hugging players, and cats and dogs were living together in perfect harmony as Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith stood in front of the NFLPA headquarters in Washington D.C. like two proud parents of a new bouncing baby boy.  As they announced the newly agreed upon Collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners, one that will bring labor peace for the next decade, NFL fans throughout the world celebrated the fact that there would be a full NFL season.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gone Campin'!!

Two weekends ago, more than 1,200 hopeful pro football prospects packed up their helmets, cleats, and parents’ checkbooks and headed down to Thibodaux, LA for the Manning Passing Academy.  The Academy, now in its 14th year overall and fifth year on the beautiful campus of Nicholls State University, is one of the most respected and well known summer football camps in the country.  Founded by former Saints’ great Archie Manning and his sons – Cooper, Peyton and Eli – this camp boasts a wide array of talent not only from the campers, but especially from the counselors.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Simple Things

The guests at this party probably thought I was the one with some sort of medical problem.

“Did he just go to the restroom again?” they must have been thinking.  “Something must be wrong with him.”

Something was wrong with me.  I had to keep going to the restroom, not to use the facilities, but to dry my eyes and compose myself every time I became overwhelmed – which seemed like every ten minutes.  I’ve never left a party where I had to pull my sunglasses over my eyes in order to hide the fact that I was bawling crying as I pulled out of the parking lot.  Let’s just say it was one of the most difficult celebrations I had ever been a part of, and it was a tough, tough day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Crocs & Other Drugs

Some things are just so damn inappropriate.

Being in medical sales, I am in a doctor's office 10 times a day, 5 days a week.  I'm in a waiting room for the better part of many of my days.  I love hearing patients complain about how much they have to wait to see the doctor, and why it's the "damn drug rep's fault."  I take the blame, of course, since the 46 seconds I spend talking the top of a doctor's head as he or she furiously scribbles on a chart while not paying attention is obviously the deciding factor in why they have to wait so long.  These social butterflies also happen to be the ones to parade out with 6 months of the free samples.  I guess it's a love-hate relationship with these curmudgeons:  They hate me being there, but they love greedily snatching up every free sample they can get.  Apparently I'm the bad guy - and I'm OK with it.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

He said WHAT????

“In my opinion, he’s (Dirk Nowitski) a top 10 player in NBA history because of the uniqueness of his game and how he’s carried this franchise on his back for over a decade.”
-          Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle

“Michael Jordan is probably the greatest scorer to ever play the game. I may go so far as saying LeBron James may be the greatest player to ever play the game.”
"Jordan?  SmH"

-          Former Bulls’ great Scottie Pippen  

“Kobe Bryant could probably beat Jordan, Magic, Bird, Kareem, and Jesus Christ by himself.  SmH!”

-          My friend, Casey Butler

All of these spectacular claims brought two thoughts to my mind.  First of all, have Scottie Pippen, Rick Carlisle, and Casey Butler all gone absolutely crazy? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why So Serious?

Those people who really know me well are well aware that I am a diehard sports fan. I am passionate about my teams, whether it is the Saints, Hornets, Colonels or Tigers and I will support them win, lose or draw. I have been known to celebrate wildly in victory and not to take defeat very well. One of the most interesting dynamics in sports is not necessarily the rivalry between sports teams, but the rivalry between their fans.

Japanese Earthquake hits Close to Home

They look like scenes from a James Cameron movie: Devastating earthquakes and tsunamis, uncontrollable fires, thousands of dead bodies washing up on shore, villages washed away forever and even nuclear fallout.

The earthquake in Japan was an epic event. To give you an idea of the scope of this tragedy, an earthquake of this magnitude has not hit the plate boundary of Japan in an estimated 1,200 years. The 9.0 earthquake, the fifth strongest one on record, shook for almost five minutes straight, was followed by over 400 aftershocks and was felt 1,242 miles from the epicenter, approximately the distance between New Orleans and Minneapolis, MN. The death count is “at least 10,000” according to Japanese officials. The ensuing tsunami was a 33 foot wall of water that washed more than a mile onto the Japanese coast, washing entire towns completely off of the map. Five hundred thousand people were evacuated, 117,000 buildings were damaged and 15,000 of those were completely destroyed. The estimated cost is believed to be 248 billion American dollars.

Words to Live By

Succeed at home FIRST...
Seek and utilize divine help.
Never compromise honesty.
Remember there are others involved.
Hear all views before judging.
Obtain counsel from others.
Defend those who aren't there.
Be sincere, yet decisive.
Develop one new proficiency a year.
Plan tomorrows work TODAY.
Hustle while you wait.
Attitude is 93% of everything you do - stay POSITIVE.
Keep your sense of humor
Make Mistakes - however, be sure to make the effort
to react to them with creative, constructive,
and corrective responses.
Facilitate the success of others.
LISTEN twice as much as you speak.


"Times are not good here (New Orleans). The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministration so that it has become a study for archaeologists...but​ it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio."

— Lafcadio Hearn, 1888
I should leave this place...

It's the perfect time for me to leave this place.