A Child Shall Teach Us

By Laura Edwards

Every week, I read Sports Illustrated (SI) cover to cover. On Thursdays, I come home from work and wager a silent guess on the star of the new cover – be it athlete, coach or history-laden venue – before I open the mailbox. To me, it’s a consistent example of great journalism. For a long time, I dreamed about becoming a writer there and even worked for them during my senior year of college (I was in a marketing/public relations role and ultimately ended up making that my career, though I moonlight as a freelance writer).

One of my favorite pages in each issue is the last – the permanent home of the column “Point After.” I have so much respect for this feature, and the topics are so regularly memorable, that I put considerable effort into pitching Taylor’s 5K prowess as a “Point After” story to SI.
Chris Ballard wrote the Sept. 21 column. Entitled “A Child Shall Draft Them,” it chronicled a Thursday afternoon fantasy football league draft held by “a horde of seven-, eight- and nine-year-olds on the modest living room floor” of a California suburbia family.
Fantasy football is a mystery to me of all people – the girl who, from the last week of August through the first week of February, keeps football on in the house all day long on Saturdays and Sundays and Monday and Thursday nights. I just don’t get it – I love real football. Maybe I’ll jump on the bandwagon one day; perhaps I’m just one of those people who will always be the late adopter. After all, I was probably the next-to-last 20-something walking the face of the planet to join Facebook (the last being my husband, who vows never to do so), and even then only after a good friend and fellow Taylor’s Tale supporter convinced me of the social networking site’s ability to promote our cause.
Perhaps that’s exactly why Ballard’s column struck a chord with me: because it was really about anything but fantasy football. For as the narrative went on, the conversation of the adolescents gathered on the living room floor for the Aptos Amateur Fantasy Football League’s first draft gradually drifted away – to baseball and soccer practices and comic books and finally, after the draft had ended and the drafters’ dads had gathered around the TV for the NFL season opener, to the wild world out there, “matched up five-on-five and playing touch football in the afternoon sun.”
As life rushes by, I fill my days with brochure copy and press releases and emails and photo shoots and meetings, my nights with more emails and more writing and more meetings. My days are about my own livelihood; my nights are about my sister’s. There’s seemingly never enough time in the day, to the extent that I often forget to watch the sunset – or pass it by without really seeing it. I’ll always have my love for football, but I rarely watch a game without the company of my laptop. An hour becomes just another opportunity to cross tasks off a to-do list; the gift of another day becomes, well, just another day.
For most adults, life simply moves too fast most of the time. In my world, the passage of time is my enemy; my sister has a degenerative disease, and as long as we’re searching for the cure that could save her life, each day is so precious that a part of me dreads the setting of the sun.

That’s what’s so amazing about Taylor, though. The disease marches on, and yet she hasn’t surrendered; I don’t believe for one second that she ever will – at least not in spirit. I called her from the car on my way to the office this morning. My mind already racing with the slate of tasks on hand for the day, my attention was initially only half hers. Taylor, though, drew me in with that way she has as she told me the story of how her dog, Sunny, had cornered a box turtle in the backyard early in the morning. My parents, after rescuing the bewildered turtle from its fluffy white captor, placed it in a shoe box and left it on the kitchen table under T’s watch while they figured out what to do with it. T quickly took to the turtle; when we were on the phone, she affectionately called it “Boxy.” And so went just another morning for T: a day full of “wild possibility.”
“After all,” asks Ballard, “what’s so wrong with wild possibility?” Unpredictability (Who knew my parents’ backyard harbored box turtles?) is what makes life so beautiful. For those kids on their fantasy draft day, wild possibility meant the hapless Oakland Raiders could be capable of winning the Super Bowl. For T, wild possibility means driving a pink convertible and running out onto the field at UNC’s Kenan Stadium as a Tar Heel cheerleader. For me, it means giving her a chance.
Many thanks to Chris Ballard and SI for an unexpected source of inspiration – for reminding me of the beauty of “wild possibility.” Click here to read Ballard’s column referenced above.