Today the devastating news has been reported that former FCB coach Tito Vilanova has died at age 45 after a 3-year battle with cancer. Like all culers, we here at BFB are deeply saddened by his passing. He represented all the best characteristics that the club strives for: decency, humanity, humility, strength under pressure, and above all respect for the opponent. Here are a few thoughts from Isaiah:
We can read the slightly slapstick
discussions of our team with wry smiles. We can dissect the rulings of an opaque organization with our eyes rolled so far back in our heads we can see the wall behind us. Many of us live this team, we dream this team, we make room in our crowded schedules for matches at odd hours. Many of us have matchday rituals, we read the tabloids for the latest transfer and
locker room rumors, we hashtag our sporting politics (#sandrodimisio, of
And then sometimes it feels like the roof is caving in.
What was before a sporting loss, a get-well-champ kind of thing where maybe they’d get to make a Hallmark movie out of the triumphant return in a year or two, is now real.
I remember sitting in the pews of my grandmother’s funeral. There are words that have meaning. Stage 4, it has spread to the lungs, a matter of time. The last time you see someone is never what you expect. My grandfather lay on a bed miming his past, unaware that he wasn’t standing in his garage fixing an engine. My then girlfriend, then just a few days from becoming my fiancée, held my hand and we tried not to cry. I succeeded for some reason we can never know, but I wish I hadn’t.
When Abidal lifted the Champions League trophy, I cheered as loudly as any time during the match.
My grandmother’s cancer went into remission, of course. More words with meanings. I followed the journey down the road to those old church pews in rural Kansas from the comfort of my apartment in Brooklyn, receiving occasional updates by email or through conversation with my father. She was his *mother*, I have to remind myself sometimes. Of course he knows how it feels. He was the one giving the eulogy I stone-faced my way through. Of course he knows.
There are no words right now, other than to ask for the minute of silence at this weekend’s match to be a deep breath in for everyone. This isn’t about the league, this isn’t about 3 points, this isn’t about internal political crises. This is about celebrating a man’s life and legacy. Pass, offer, receive. Let the ball do the running. Smile sometimes, just because it’s nice.
Take care, Tito. I hope we can smile like you did.
Thanks for everything, Tito. You will be truly missed.