Hole In The Heart RK

Written by: Carl Rice Jr


Written By: Carl Rice Jr

While lying in my bed bright sunshine covers my face as the light comes through my bedroom window.  I like the warmth of the sun against my face but my eyes must stay closed.  It’s quiet in the house. All I hear is the sound of my breath. I move my head from the sun so I can open my eyes.  Lying in bed my thoughts fade to another time in life. 

I’m playing in the backyard with BJ and his friend Eric.  I’m two years old and it excites me to watch them dig a big hole.  They pick me up and put me in the hole.  I hear them laughing while I’m surrounded in a place that I cannot get out of.  I’m scared. All around me is darkness.  Then I look up and see light from the sun.  I’m not scared anymore.

As BJ pulls me up he hugs me. I love BJ.  As my thoughts remain in the past I remember a time when I was three.  The furnace register had been removed from the floor and BJ stood next to the gaping hole.  I can hear his voice as if it were yesterday.  “Ryan, I’m going in the hole and the Devil is going to get me!”  I cried out, “No BJ not the Debil!”  Then BJ hugged me and said, ” the Devil won’t get me brother.” 

As I continue to think of my past, I’m overcome with thoughts of different moments I had in sports.  At fourteen years old I was in my tenth year of hockey.  I was on the travel team and felt tremendous pressure to help my team make it to the state finals.  At six-foot-two I was one of the biggest kids playing hockey.  During our first game in the state finals the other team had a kid just as big as me.  As usual the fans wanted to see which one of us was the toughest.  Sometimes I loved being the tough guy, most of the time I just wanted to be seen as a really good hockey player.  During the game the other big kid and I were playing a part of the game called “checking”, Which required us to slam hard against each other. 

Fans from both teams were yelling, “kill him!”  During the game the other big kid hurt my teammate.  I can still hear my coach yelling, “Get him Ryan!”  Before I knew it we were fighting and the fans were going crazy.  I didn’t want to lose.  I hit the kid really hard in the chest and he fell on the ice hitting his head.  An ambulance showed up and the kid was not moving.  As I left the ice people were yelling at me. “Goon!” “Asshole!”  I stood in the corner and once again felt alone in the dark.

I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t want to hurt him.  I hated being big.  My parents came over to me and I cried so hard I couldn’t catch my breath.  As I tried to speak through my crackling voice, tears ran down my cheeks and into my mouth.  I told Mom and Dad, “I don’t want to be the tough guy.  I don’t want to be the kid who fights.”

As I thought about the kid who was hurt I asked Dad if he was okay.  Dad told me he would be fine.  This made me feel better but I still felt alone in the dark.  All I wanted was to be Ryan the hockey player and not Ryan the “Goon.”

As my thoughts return to the present I’m still lying in bed.  My thoughts fade back to the past and I think of how much I loved playing football.  As I stood in the parking lot after our last football game I stood alone in the dark.  Even though there was pressure from the coaches and demands that I put on myself, football made me feel good about myself.  I was seventeen years old, six-foot-five, and 220 pounds.  I was fast, had great hands, and broke the school receiving record held since 1967.  I was All-Conference, All-Area and honorable mention All- State.  I didn’t want to cry but tears fell from my eyes, as I felt the loss of football.

As my thoughts return to the present I’m still lying in my bed.  The sunlight has moved from my face.  My feet hang over the end of my bed because my legs are so long.  On my wall is a picture of “Goofy” which my Uncle Terry painted.  As I pull the silk edges of my blanket through my fingers, I hear a knock at the door.  I open the door and it’s my girlfriend Leslie.  She steps into my home and we hug each other tightly.  Then at the same time Leslie and I said, “I love you.”  We both felt blessed to have each other and looked forward to spending the weekend together.  What we didn’t know is I would die the next day, November 30, 2003.