I still can’t pinpoint exactly why I wanted to be a goalie. It could be the Miracle On Ice, my earliest sports memory. It might be the masks that hide the goalies' faces, but become their true identities. Or maybe it was watching goalies make saves that gave their team a chance to steal two points in games they should’ve lost.
I’d never need to explain any of this to Maddie. She already knows intuitively. Goalies understand each other on a subatomic level. That’s why goaltending legend Jacques Plante said “Only a goalie can appreciate what a goalie goes through.”
I also understand that Maddie’s wish embodies her love for hockey and for her favorite team. She wished to practice with the Boston Bruins and have a pizza party with the team afterwards.
Before her wish came true, Maddie met Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask to select some new gear for her. Ten days later, they were on the ice together during a Bruins practice for her wish, which was granted by Make-A-Wish Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
I see profound wisdom and understanding in Tuukka's words to the media after Maddie's wish: “We just talked about hockey stuff, how does it feel to be a goalie, and what do we do in the locker room,” he said.
He treated Maddie as another goalie – not as a kid with cancer. He took the focus away from her hardship and placed it squarely on the possibilities in her life.
You see? Goalies understand each other … even if nobody else understands goalies.
Make-A-Wish thanks our NHL friends for all they do to change the lives of kids with life-threatening medical conditions.
You can also see other great wishes from the Massachusetts and Rhode Island chapter on its Twitter and Facebook pages.
Photo courtesy of Erica Ferrone Photography