Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for January 15th, 2012

Life Trumps Football; Packers OC loses son at age 21

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Today, football took center stage as the Green Bay Packers hosted the New York Giants in the National Football League playoffs.  The Packers were heavy favorites, as they had gone 15-1 during the regular season; most people in Wisconsin thought about the game, and about whether or not the Packers would do well, and that’s as normal.

What wasn’t as normal was the grief Packers Offensive Coordinator Joe Philbin has had to deal with, as his son, Michael, died suddenly at age 21 due to what seems like misadventure in Oshkosh as his body was pulled from the bottom of the iced-over Fox River this past MondayPhilbin was away from the team, something head coach Mike McCarthy said he’d completely expected.

“Joe Philbin is where he’s supposed to be,” McCarthy said. “Frankly, Joe and I haven’t even talked about his responsibility – and will not. He’s with his family and he’ll return when he feels he’s ready to return.”

This, of course is the proper attitude to take, especially considering this was an unanticipated death of a very young man.

The Packers ended up losing today’s game, 37-20, to the Giants, which as unexpected as that was on some levels actually makes sense to me.

You see, when people who matter to you die, that’s a lot more important than any football game, no matter how much you love football and no matter how much you root for the Packers.  Even working for the Packers, as QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Donald Driver, and others do is not as important as the loss of Michael Philbin, something every single one of the Packers are likely to understand down the road (even as the sting of this loss may temporarily crowd that out).

No one, but no one, wants to go to a funeral, much less a funeral for a previously healthy and happy 21-year-old.  The Packers went en masse to the funeral on Friday, and did their best to dedicate today’s game to the memory of Michael Philbin, but to my mind the grief suffered was just too overwhelming to bear.

My heart goes out to Joe Philbin and his family over the loss of Michael; may their memories of him sustain them in their time of grief, and may the people who care about the Philbins express their condolences no matter how awkward they may sound.  Because people who grieve need to know that the life of their loved one mattered, and believe you me, most people both need and want to keep talking about the person (or people) who matter to them, even if they’re now dead.

Because none of us knows the future, please remember to let your loved ones know that you care about them every chance you get.  Not a single one of us knows how many days we have left, and since we don’t know that, and we can’t know that, we have to make the best of whatever time we have. 

That way, when you’re left with nothing but memories (as I’ve been now, twice), those memories can give you some comfort amidst the pain.