In Year One of this MAC sports blog, I didn't write a single thing about Marcellis Williamson. There's no good reason why, it just didn't happen. And honestly, there wasn't much I knew about the man prior to learning about his death. And yet it hits you. It always does when someone's 23 years old and loses their life, especially of natural causes. (The cause of death remains unofficial, but speculation leads to a heart attack.)
But even limiting this to the scope of the Mid-American Conference, we've had this before. Robbie Krutilla, a few years removed from playing center for Western Michigan football, died in February. Back in 2006, Toledo basketball player Haris Charalambous died suddenly during a conditioning regimen. While I was at Bowling Green, a walk-on player named Aaron Richardson lost his life practicing.
A few years before that, there was a kid named Drushawn Humphrey who had committed to Ohio State as a running back. I thought for sure he was going to be a star with them. He absolutely torched our school and averaged something crazy like 10 years per carry his senior year. He died before setting foot on campus during a pick-up basketball game with friends.
It happens, and it keeps happening, and explanations are never provided, even when causes of death are. We are left to try to explain this ourselves, and frankly were terrible at it.
When Devon Butler was shot earlier this month, my mind was racing. I'm so glad he's going to be okay, but it just reinforced the already ironclad postulate that random unavoidable bad things happen to people. Marcellis Williamson was, by all accounts, a good football player but a guy ready to take on an adult life.
But that Facebook status. Good lord, that final status Williamson posted (that has now been taken down): "I am blessed to have waken up this morning!! Enjoy today because tomorrow isn't guaranteed!!" If the death didn't knock you over, the last digital words of a human being ought to have elicited SOME kind of shock. Makes you wonder what the last thing I ever write will be. No doubt some terrible joke on Twitter, and talk about going out with a puff of black smoke.
I often think about this thought that you should "live every day like it's your last." Or, in sports terms, play every game like it's your last. We hear this a lot. That last impression is important. Marcellis Williamson's final game: two tackles in the New Orleans Bowl that the Bobcats lost 48-21. I got a feeling this is not how people will remember him. Although while he was in New Orleans for this final game, he left an indelible mark:
The lasting image I'll have of former Ohio DL Marcellis Williamson: http://plixi.com/p/96604346
He visited children at the hospital in New Orleans, and that's how he'll be remembered by this guy. For others, I'm sure there will be other impressions.
I don't know how I'm going to be remembered, and I certainly don't know when my time on this earth will be over. Hopefully not for another 150 years, at least, if I plan it right. I'm not living every one of those days as if it were my last. Because ... well, suppose you knew it was your last day. You're even given a time. 10:54 a.m. Not an ideal time to go since you have to get up relatively early to enjoy life, although breakfast is your final meal and that's pretty sweet. But as you tie up all loose ends and try to punch off as many items on Life's To-Do List, it becomes so much freaking pressure to say goodbye and do everything "one last time. Suddenly you're doing the one thing in life that can really obfuscate the enjoyment of it: structure and planning.
That's kind of how college is. You go into it and say, I'm going to do this and this and this, study this subject, and then I'm going to become [blank]. And you know that's not how it goes. You go into college to become a businessman and aspire to own a Fortune 500 company, and you end up living running a tapas restaurant in Kalamazoo. It makes more sense to embrace another one of life's lessons: that the journey is worth more than the destination. Playing the Legend of Zelda is way more fun than beating it, which has a detached sense of fulfillment, not to mention the realization that holy cow I just stayed up all night playing this video game.
As you've probably guessed by now, I'm the writer on a website that talks about Mid-American Conference sports. How would I write every blog post like it was my last? Have you SEEN some of the final posts when writers leave and/or shut down blogs? Holy hell, they're sappy as all get-up. They're awkward, fragmented, and you can tell that the writer wants to be done with the post just as much as the reader does. Yikes.
If I had some grand answer to how one should live their life, I'd share it. But we're all still trying to figure this thing called "existence" out, and we've had about 40,000 years of trial and error. At some point you need to step away from this line of thought before it drives you crazy.