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Column: Do not live every day like it's your last

Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2012, at 1:37 AM

I've never bought into the idea that you should live every day like it's your last and the notion that sports are just games.

If today was my last day, I'd be at my parents' house eating copious amounts of cookie dough and trying to find a way to tell all the people I love how much they've meant to me.

I hope I'd at least laugh until I cried and couldn't breathe, before I just cried as I tried to figure out how to say goodbye.

That would be a great day in some ways, and saying those things is important, but that can't be my every day. It can't be anybody's every day.

It wouldn't be living. It would be waiting to die.

I've never liked the saying, "It's just a game," which is something people often say after a tragedy to show that sports aren't really that important.

I already understand that it is a privilege to be able to care about sports as much as I do. I don't need to be reminded that there are more important things in the world.

These two beliefs don't often have much to do with each other, but every once in a while sports find a way to remind me of my mortality because every once in a while sports and our lives can't be separated. Sports often are more than about the outcome between two teams, and the role they play shouldn't be understated.

I didn't know Southeast Missouri State soccer player Meg Herndon. I actually never even talked to her or watched her play.

But Southeast soccer players aren't supposed to die in the middle of their senior season, and Southeast players aren't supposed to spend the day before their first conference game at a teammate's funeral. That's not how any story is supposed to go.

I'm not supposed to be thinking about my last day, yet that's what I'm doing right now thinking about Herndon's tragic death.

But I'm not heading to my parents house, whipping out my grandma's chocolate chip cookie recipe or reflecting on how meaningless soccer games are.

I'm sitting here at my desk, somehow still managing to feel a little sorry for myself because I've had a busy day on what's supposed to be my day off and I haven't gotten to spend as much time crafting this column or listening to the new Mumford and Sons album as I'd like.

I am aware of how petty and ridiculous that is given the situation, but I'm feeling that way anyway.

I think that's kind of what it's like with sports as well.

When a team or an athlete that I really care about loses, I feel like I've lost, too.

When they win, I feel like a winner -- even if I don't deserve it.

I still find an occasional reason to yell at my TV, and I get excited hours or sometimes days before a big game.

And even on the days when I'm reminded that everyone I know could die today, none of that changes, even if that is ridiculous. And that's perfect.

This almost certainly does not apply to the friends, family and teammates of

Meg Herndon.

There is, of course, a big difference between losing someone you love and just being reminded that you will.

But I know Herndon's teammates put on their uniforms and walked back onto the field Tuesday night, the day after her funeral.

Somehow it's comforting to know that they played, to know that life and soccer for the rest of the team goes on. I won't pretend to know how the players felt, but I hope in some way, big or small, they feel some of that comfort, too.

Rachel Crader is editor of semoball.com. Contact her at rcrader@semissourian.com.

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Crader, Let's debate...

"It can't be anybody's every day." ONLY IF YOU TRY.



I'm not supposed to be thinking about my last day, yet that's what I'm doing right now thinking about Herndon's tragic death." ITS OK TO BE SAD & GRIEVE(for a time), AS LONG AS YOU CELEBRATE HER LIFE AS A VICTORY (forever).

-- Posted by sawdust49 on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 7:31 PM

Rachel: thanks for the honesty and perspective and not hiding behind platitudes and cliches. Not everything can be or even needs to be wrapped up with a nice bow on it.

-- Posted by Grussman on Fri, Sep 28, 2012, at 2:33 PM

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Rachel Crader is the editor of semoball.com. She graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2009 before spending the summer covering the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Highlights from Rachel's days in college include having a class down the hall from Chase Daniel and having NCAA wrestling champion Ben Askren hold the door open for her at Brady Commons, Mizzou's student center. She spent time covering Mizzou basketball, softball and baseball while working for the Columbia Missourian and is excited to return home to Southeast Missouri to cover local sports for semoball.com.

Rachel has covered three Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournaments for the Southeast Missourian and semoball.com, and she'll see you courtside again this year.