Thank You Anthony Foley.
I am writing this message to all the people out there who may be struggling with a huge loss in their lives.
I am currently in Limerick the night before Glasgow Warriors play against Munster. After not being selected for the game I’m here as the 24th man/water boy. It can be hard to be in the most positive mindset about not being selected and also being away from my fiancee who has just returned after being away for work for 3 weeks. (1st world problems ay!) The time here in Limerick and this experience witnessing the impact of Anthony Foley passing has bought about some great perspective for me which I am very grateful for. I choose to use this circumstance as an opportunity to write this post to express myself and be helpful to others.
What inspired me to write this has been the passing of Anthony Foley the Munster Head coach an absolute legend in Ireland and especially the Munster community. It only hit home to me earlier this week when in conversation with the Warriors Managing Director Nathan about the devastation of the passing of the Munster head coach Foley and the situation on whether the game would go ahead or not. He asked my opinion on it and referred to the experience I had where I played for Auckland 2 days after my Dad passing away.
Firstly it got me thinking deeply about what the right way to go about it was with the upcoming game and secondly it brought on great respect for Nathan that he was aware of this detail that I had played closely after losing my dad.
My opinion on whether the game being played or not is that I honestly feel that either way you go is the right answer. If you play the game it is in honour of Anthony Foley and if you choose not to it is out of respect. The fact that it is going ahead I think is an amazing way to celebrate a special mans life with a community he served so greatly.
Nathan asked me if In hindsight playing two days after my dad had passed away was the right thing for me. My answer was that it most definitly was because I felt strongly about playing at the time and that my dad loved rugby and would have loved to have seen me play. On the other side if I had chosen not to play it also would have been correct because I was exhausted emotionally and was mourning the loss.
At the end of the day my dad is gone and looking back 80 minutes of rugby is pretty small in the greater scheme of things. I am proud I played, it was tough to muster up the energy but knowing that strength came from dad helped me grow.
The second point that really hit home to me was when earlier today, I along with the Warriors team attended Thomand Park to pay our respects to Anthony. We looked over all the items left by supporters and some of the amazingly kind words that were written. One of the letters spoke of Foleys two young sons. This really got me feeling for these young fellas. And I know they will go through some struggles but from the legacy their great father left them, they will grow into great men themselves.
A few thoughts I have had from this experiece at Thomond Park:
I can only speak of my own experience of loss and I hope it can be beneficial to others. I experienced alot of downs after my dad passed away but now have such a positive out look on the experiences and the time I shared with him.
First thing I learned was to allow myself to feel the pain of losing who was the most important person in my life. I tried to fool myself for a long time by telling myself how well I was handling it and how positive I was about the situation. All I really was doing was bottling my emotions and putting on a smile. It wasn’t long until the bottle exploded and my life became a mess. It took me a long time to realise why, because I had kept telling myself how well I was doing and trying really hard to put on a positive front to other people because I wanted to be admired for my positivity.
A great lesson I learned from this- Feel the pain completely allow yourself to feel completely devestated dont try and deny it and put on a smiling face. It will come back to bite you later. Life is not always about being positive. You are allowed to feel sadness and pain but just know that you will grow greatly from this pain.
Feel gratitude for all that you have learned from your loved one that you have lost. And know that one day you will view their life as well as their passing as the greatest gift you ever recieved. The strength you gain from the lessons of losing some one you love dearly, looked up to and admire will accelerate your growth as a person. It wont seem so now or at the time but although you will always miss them being here, the amount you grow and the perspective you gain on life will have them walking next to you every single step you take in life. You dont realize it right now but your strength just grew times a billion.
Dont take it personally. I took it personally for a long time and this is what had me holding on to emotions that were pulling me down. When you gain a greater perspective that everyone dies some day and it us up to us how we respond to it, you will more likely eventually choose the path of growth. This will help you learn from the legacy your loved one left behind. This will keep you positive when you miss them most knowing that their life served you so greatly to become the absolute best you can be.
It is also a reminder to live for our true values because life is precious and short. It sure seems as though Anthony Foley was a man true to his values and has left behind a great opportunity for others to grow and move forward from the legacy he has left.
It took a while for me to gain this perspective myself but I am so thankful for the lessons I have learned in life and the great legacy my father left me to live out my best life and to have strength knowing he is by my side in every moment.
Thank you too the Munster Rugby community a very specialy community who are extremely proud. I think you have all been bought together even closer by this sad time. Thank you for allowing the Glasgow Warriors to experience this moment with you.
Thank you for all you have done Anthony Foley and for the impact you have left. Your life has given many including those closest to you the opportunity to grow and to be great just as you have done.
It is an honour to be apart of this time to celebrate your life and your legacy.