Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for January, 2014

JANUARY 24th

Today is not January 24th, but it has taken me a few days to travel home and process what the day meant to me this year. January 24, 2014, the 22nd anniversary of our swim team’s bus accident.

Many people ask me – usually as the day approaches – what I usually “do” on the 24th, and my answer is always the same: I go to mass, and I take the day for myself. For 22 years, I have thought I was being solitary in keeping to myself and not “bothering” others with it being “Mom’s special day,” as my boys call it. But what I learned this year is that I really am just being selfish.

This January 24 was the day of our Monogram Club winter board meeting – in South Bend – and I learned throughout the day how many people were involved in discussing what could be done to recognize the significance of the date, not only for me, but for the history of the University and the Athletics Department. My preference was nothing. I wanted nothing done; no mention of it, no special mass, no acknowledgement to my fellow board members and close friends. It was “my” day and I wanted to keep it to myself. And my wish was honored.

Then I had lunch with members of Notre Dame’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council. In talking to a senior on the women’s swim team, she mentioned that the women’s team was planning a trip to the Grotto after practice in honor of the anniversary. My heart swelled. I don’t think she had any idea the flood of emotions that ran through me – all of which I tried to contain when I asked, Can I come?

Current Notre Dame women's team at the Gotto

Current Notre Dame women’s team at the Gotto

I know some of the girls on the team, but not all. They are half my age and I’m sure they think I’m old (that’s okay…I did too when I was 20!) But for the most part, their only connection to the story of our bus accident is the story, the history and our shared time as Notre Dame swimmers. And yet, they felt so connected that they braved the zero degree temperatures with wet hair from practice – and before dinner – to say a prayer at the Grotto for my teammates and our shared love of Notre Dame swimming.

There are not words to adequately explain how much this meant to me – and to my teammates. It was enough to motivate me to walk across campus in zero degree temperatures to join them. We lit candles, we said a prayer, I said thank you, and we parted ways. It was brief (it was cold), but for the first time – in years – I shed tears as I walked away. Honored. Speechless. Humbled. Loved. Filled with gratitude for these women who selflessly shared part of their day with me.

Shared. They didn’t keep it to themselves, as I have all these years. And once again I was reminded how powerful we are when we pray together, when we lift each other up, when we care enough to reach out to one-another.

And I felt guilty…guilty about all those who wanted to share in this day – for so many years – and I have kept to myself. Because the greatest gift I received on January 24 this year was from teammates I never swam with, and yet whom I will never forget.

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  • NORTH CAROLINA

    This was a crazy week! My husband was out of town all week (longer than normal); I took my two boys to watch Notre Dame’s men’s basketball team play Maryland in College Park (and got stuck in traffic in the parking garage, so we didn’t get home until after 11pm); we are preparing for our Monogram Club winter board meeting next week with conference calls and writing reports; and there are the usuals: basketball games and practices, laundry, lunches, field trips and the dog.

    Oh, and I had a talk in North Carolina, which was – by far – the highlight! I am sure most people would not count “work” as the highlight of their week, but it was – and usually is – for me.

    For one, my best friend from Arizona lives in North Carolina. We have known each other since our ages were in the single digits; we were Brownies together; we both went to college in South Bend; and we are godmothers to each other’s youngest children. Lucky for us, we both ended up on the east coast; just a five-hour drive separates us. She has lived every aspect of my life with me, but she had never heard me speak. So that was fun (so was our dinner before, and the glass of wine afterwards)…

    The Notre Dame Club of Eastern Carolina and the folks at Cardinal Gibbons High School did a wonderful job of packing the auditorium. As with every talk, I know there is someone who is there who needs to hear my message. Often times there are a few…and I can’t tell you how much it means to hear their heartfelt stories. It is a privilege to share in someone’s life in this way. It is a gift to share hope.

    Interestingly enough, when I got home I read a quote that said (and my apologies to the author, because I do not recall who it was): If you love your job,  you’ll never work a day in your life.

    This is so true. Of all the “work” I did last week, it wasn’t my job that was work.

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  • HAPPY NEW YEAR

    Oh Yikes! No wonder my mother reminded me to update my blog; I haven’t posted since November! That’s terrible…

    Advent is my favorite time of year! Christmas, New Years, the Bowl Game…heck, even the ND-Navy game in November…are all “draft” posts on my blog site. Clearly I have an issue with follow through.

    Last year my New Year’s resolution was to blog once a week. I obviously did not do that, but I did write over 52 posts in 2013 (primarily my 40 to 40 segment). So this year, I won’t resolve to blog once a week (even though I am going to try).

    This year’s resolution is to better utilize social media. Social media is a powerful tool when used correctly. (It is also a powerful tool when the power is abused.) But I’ll focus on the positive.

    I often find myself thinking during the day, “Oh, this would be great to write about.” So I need to follow through. It may not be long, it may not always be insightful, but I will do my best to blog, tweet and whatever else may come along.

    Tomorrow I leave for Raleigh, NC, for my first talk of the year. There are many reasons I am looking forward to this trip…but I’ll save them for my next post as motivation to write.

    I hope your New Year has begun well. I can’t believe the month is almost half over!

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