Is there a harder thing you’ll ever do than stand up and say goodbye to your best friend? Is there a more important speech you’ll ever make?
Is there a request – as Michael Clarke said today, it’s a weighty honour to be asked – that is so impossible to refuse, but difficult to carry out?
Watching Clarke deliver his mate Phillip Hughes’ eulogy in the glare of a hundred cameras was brutal. And beautiful.
The usually confident, private and eloquent man couldn’t raise his eyes to the crowd, couldn’t catch his breath and raced through the words as if trying to outrun his tears.
Watch Michael’s speech, here. (Post continues after video):
You can read his beautiful speech, here, but there was a gasp of recognition from anyone who has ever lost someone when he said this:
“I keep looking for him. I expect any minute to take a call from him, or for his face to pop around the corner.”
Think of the people closest to you – how their littlest details are the things that you would miss the most if they were taken from you. Think of the way you know what they’ll say before they say it, the way they have of making you smile when you don’t want to, the smell of their hair, the sound of their laugh, the feel of their arms around you. And try to put that into words worthy of remembrance.
And then try to stand up and say them when all you want to do is hide and mourn and hide and grieve and hide and hope that when you wake up tomorrow, today’s reality will have shifted, and they will be back with you.
Because Australia has been knocked by Phillip Hughes’ death. But for many of us, it’s a symbolic loss.
We’re feeling the injustice of a young life that didn’t get a chance to run its course. Shock that this could happen in the “gentle” game so entwined with the national character we can’t imagine our iconic Australian summer without it. The unthinkably freakish and public nature of the accident that took him away.
But we didn’t know him. We are saddened by the ridiculous cruelty of what happened, but tomorrow, our lives will go on. Phillip Hughes will become a story we tell our children about danger and chance and loss and mateship.