Last night was a typically busy January night for my family.
My oldest was playing basketball in a local high school gymnasium with her team. My husband was in another gym officiating a game. I was busy carting the younger kids around and trying to organize backpacks and snow gear for their return to school this morning after Christmas vacation.
We missed tuning in live to the Monday Night Football game between the Bengals and the Bills, but when my son got home, he wondered about the score.
It was then we learned the horrific news about Damar Hamlin, how his heart had stopped after making a tackle against Tee Higgins partway through the first quarter.
It’s what everyone’s talking about today. Football fans or not, millions of us are praying for a positive outcome and a full recovery for this talented young man with his whole life ahead of him.
I’m praying for him, too—refreshing social media for any updates, a glimmer of hopeful news.
But I can’t stop thinking about Damar’s mom.
A clip taken earlier this season just before kickoff shows her on the sidelines hugging her son, beaming as he bounded off to the field to play the game he so clearly loves.
Damar Hamlin gets in a second to hug his mom, Nina and family pregame.
— Jenna Cottrell (@JennaCottrell) November 20, 2022
Damar’s mom, Nina, was there last night in Cincinnati too. Smiling just a big, no doubt, bursting with the pride only a mother understands as she cheered on her son who has realized his dream. Their dream.
Who could have known barely an hour later she’d be watching medical personnel work to restart his heart?
It’s the kind of thing that, as a mother, I can’t even. It’s too much.
From the moment we know they exist, our children own pieces of our hearts we will never get back. It’s the way of motherhood. It’s how it’s meant to be, and it’s a beautiful, holy thing.
It’s also absolutely terrifying.
It’s true what they say: part of our hearts walk around outside of our bodies when we become mothers. And to be helpless to fix their hurt—physical or otherwise? I’m not sure there’s a more painful feeling on earth.
It’s what I keep landing on today as I’m waiting, like everyone else, for news about Damar Hamlin. She is what I’m thinking about.
I’m sure she’s by his side in the hospital. No doubt she’s become an overnight expert in cardiology—in respiration rates and oxygen sats and heart rhythms. She’s probably being flooded with information, simultaneously seeking it out and pushing it away because how can this be real? She’s being strong, I’m sure, because it’s the only option, what her baby needs. She’s doing what mothers do.
But I know she’s scared. Terrified, in fact.
I hope she feels our prayers.
I hope she feels the powerful current of support flowing through her veins at this very moment, the strength we’re willing her.
I hope she senses the millions of mothers who have their arms wrapped around her, holding her up in her exhaustion and fear.
I pray for her as I pray for her son. So many of us are today.
Announcement directly from Damar’s family: pic.twitter.com/MdzgxUmVfg
— Jordon Rooney (@jordonr) January 3, 2023
Our thoughts and prayers are with Damar, his family and the Buffalo Bills ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/A03jGU4J9S
— NFL (@NFL) January 3, 2023