Haley Scott DeMaria

Archive for March, 2014


These words flowed through my mind all day. They are from the Naval Hymn that is sung at the end of each mass at the Naval Academy. I am sure it is sung more often – and in other locations – but at mass is when I hear and sing it.

This morning I woke up to the news that MIDN 4/C Will McKamey had passed away. I had never met Midshipman McKamey, but I had followed his story since Saturday when it came across my Twitter feed that he had collapsed at football practice and been airlifted to the hospital. We then boarded a nine-hour flight.
One of the first things I looked for when we landed was an update on MIDN McKamey. He was still in a coma. I thought this was a good sign: he had made it through that first night.

Three days later, still in a coma, he passed away.

I am so sad for his family, for his friends, for his teammates and for his classmates. The Naval Academy is a family; I would imagine the football team is a close family. This has hit them hard, I am sure. They have lost a teammate, a brother, at age 19. That is too young.

I can’t say that everything happens for a reason. Not now. I can’t comfort with “God has a plan,” because I do not believe God plans such tragedies. But I do believe that we have a choice in how we face these challenges.

But not now. Now is a time for grief. Now is a time for sadness and sorting through the confusion of how and why this happened…answers the family may never know. Now is a time to let the family, the Academy and Will’s friends know that we care, that we are here – collectively and individually – for when they make the choice to move on. A part of them never will, but I am confident they will choose to #livelikewill.

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  • LENT, DAY ???

    Good thing my Lenten resolution was not “blog everyday.” Or I would have only lasted four days…

    I can see where writers have blocks. I am not at a loss for ideas; I am at a loss for time. This blog started at 8:48am this morning. It is now 6:55pm. This is not the first time I have sat down at my computer, it is just the first time I have clicked on this page and made the decision to write.

    It all comes back to choices. Priorities and choices. Yes, we have obligations: bills to pay, meals to make, deadlines to meet. But when it comes to how we spend our free time, we are free to choose. And usually we choose based on our priorities. Some days blogging is a priority for me (like the 40 days before my birthday), some days it is not (like the past ten days we spent on vacation).

    But there are often times I want something to be a priority and it’s not. And that’s when I need to stop and think – and make sure I am being true to myself and what is most important.

    It is now the following day…I am making it a priority to post this today!


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    Last week I was invited to speak to the middle school students at St. Anne’s School of Annapolis as part of their leadership speakers series. When I first wrote my book, I thought the audience would be primarily high school and college students, coaches, swimmers and/or other athletes. Middle school students were not on my radar.

    But then I spoke to a group of 10-13 year olds and they were awesome. What a great age: tweens and early teens, trying to figure out who they are and what’s important in life. The students at St. Anne’s were amazing.

    First of all, they sat quietly and listened intently for an hour (which is a tough feat for any middle school student…and some adults). And then their questions!!! When I asked for “Questions and Comments” (a common St. Anne’s phrase), about one-third of the students immediately raised their hands. They had listened, they had absorbed and they wanted to know more.

    The beauty about middle schoolers is they have no filter (well, this isn’t always beautiful – but it was this time) and it reflected in their questions: What hurt the most?  How did you feel when you found out your friends died?  Can you show us your rods again?  Wow, did you really have to wear that brace for a year?  What was the hardest part? 

    In a world where so much information is available to our children instantly, it is refreshing to know that students are still taught to listen, to be patient, to be thoughtful and caring. There are educational buzz words that reflect this: social-emotion learning, educating the whole child, etc… But at many schools those are just words. Only when you have the opportunity to see it in action do you understand how important it is.

    It’s also why I send my children to St. Anne’s School. They are challenged academically for sure. But it is way more important to me to know that they are being molded into thoughtful, listening and caring individuals who strive to make a difference.

    As someone once said to me: your child can be brilliant at math or any other school subject, but if he can’t relate to anyone it doesn’t matter.
    Academics are important, but I’ll take a thoughtful and kind-hearted child over an A in Algebra any day.

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  • LENT, DAY 4

    Simple joys.

    We had a fairly quiet weekend. We are between sports, so although my son had baseball, we weren’t rushing all over town shuttling the boys from one event to another. In fact, at one point, both boys were outside playing with friends and my husband and I had time to clean out his office. Well, we didn’t totally clean it out (in fact, we only emptied one laundry basket filled with “stuff”) – but it was a few minutes of time with my husband to talk and work on a project together.

    Simple, but joyful. Time to talk, time to catch up. It’s not as easy – or as frequent – in our house as you might think. But most importantly, it was time together.

    Just as we enjoyed sitting with our boys watching Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team play three games this weekend. Correction: watching Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team WIN three games this weekend. The four of us sat and watched and talked and enjoyed each other. Simple, but joyful, and important to recognize and appreciate.

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  • LENT, DAY 3

    I am still thinking about the Gospel from Ash Wednesday, because there are times when I want to post on Facebook, or even blog about, my Lenten Resolutions…what I am “giving up,” or as is the case this year: what I am doing during Lent.

    But that is not what the Gospel says; the Gospel tells us to not show or share our sacrifices. In a way, I get that. But it also makes it harder. (Which I’m sure is the point.)

    I often need to be held accountable for my resolutions (whether New Years, Lenten or otherwise), so for me – the easiest way to do this is to tell someone. If my husband (or children) knows what I have resolved to do – or not do – I am more likely to stick to it. But just because it makes it easier, does not make it right. It should be enough to only be accountable to God.

    Maybe that’s what I should work on this Lent. But if it is, I probably shouldn’t tell you.

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  • LENT, DAY 2

    Earlier tonight (well, technically yesterday now) we went to a play with some friends. My husband and I are both fans of musical theater, and this was a musical we had seen before. A few times. Or in the case of my husband, several times.

    So we took friends who had never seen this particular show. And they loved it…which made it more fun for us. It was a great reminder that joy shared is joy doubled. I would still have laughed and sung all the songs in my head (okay, maybe a few times out loud – but quietly) had it just been my husband and me, but sharing the experience with our friends increased the joy.

    What a great thing to keep in mind during Lent: Joy shared is joy doubled.

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    This morning I woke up, as I do every morning, to an email from FaithND with the day’s Gospel reading, reflection and prayer. I already knew what the Gospel would say, as it is my favorite Gospel reading of the year.
    The reflection, however, was particularly interesting to me (perhaps because I enjoy the Gospel reading so much) and then I read by whom it was written: Father Thomas Blantz. Father Blantz was one of my history professors at Notre Dame. He also married my husband and me. What a perfect way to start the day!

    As I was driving my boys to school, I told them about this – and about the Gospel reading they would hear later at chapel. My youngest son asked me, “How do you know that’s what it says?” I told him to let me know…

    He was so excited to get in the car this afternoon to tell me I was right: “We did hear about not letting our right hand know what our left hand is doing! But what does that mean?”

    So, I got to give him my own reflection. Priceless.

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