I’m not sure I have any right to be so profoundly sad. It’s not as if I knew him, or even knew that much about him. I can’t even say I watched him play very much. But the injury to and death of Phillip Hughes whilst playing cricket has affected me more than I can understand.
It made me feel physically sick when I first learned of his injury. And that’s without seeing any video footage, which I decided I simply didn’t need or want to see.
On learning that he had passed away, I cried: not in floods, but there were tears I couldn’t hold back. That’s more than I did when I learned that my nanna had died in 2012, or when a close friend of the family died after a protracted illness a couple of years before that. And the tears have returned each time I read more of Phillip’s story, or the cricket world’s reactions.
Perhaps it was the sudden-ness. The shock. The sense of injustice that someone so young with everything to live for could be gone in a split instant through a freak accident. No fault to be laid at anyone’s feet. No time for goodbyes. No time to prepare.
The ripples have already spread far and wide. I am clearly not alone in this. I can’t remember hearing before – even on the death of Princess Di, and I was living in England at the time – so many people (men particularly) openly talk about crying following the death of a public figure.
As many others have observed, I suspect what’s at play here is the stark reminder of our own mortality, and our relative lack of control over when or where or how our time is up. If someone so young, healthy, talented, determined and gritty as Phillip Hughes, living in a relatively safe country and surrounded by good people, can still be beaten by a freak accident, so can we all.
It gets you thinking…
Do I tell the important people in my life often enough that I love and care about them?
Am I making the most of my time here on earth, both for my personal sense of achievement and for making the best contribution I possibly can to the local and global community?
How am I going with those dreams I had as a child?
I reckon I’ve got some work ahead of me.
If any good can come from this, perhaps it is that there will be a heck of a lot more people thinking more carefully about their lives, and perhaps making some conscious changes that could improve their own happiness and benefit the broader community too. And hopefully a lot more people, men especially, willing to openly grieve and to support each other in that.
Vale Phillip Hughes. RIP.