It was the beginning of September 2014 and I was competing with the Canadian Women's Volleyball Team in Trieste, Italy for the World Championships. At the time, the only thing on my mind was volleyball. Until the morning of September 18th, 2014.
I woke up to a text from my mother asking me to call her immediately. My heart sank and I knew something was wrong. She shared the news that the father of my best friend, Madison, suddenly passed away on September 17th. Parker was family to me. Our parents grew up together and stayed close friends.
The news shook me to the core. No words can describe how I felt. I wanted to go home. Volleyball became the most unimportant thing in my life. The last place I wanted to be was Europe. Competing with passion and celebrating success was not possible. With the help of teammates I somehow stayed and managed to play. To this day, I do not know how.
I also had Madison. It seems strange, as she was going through the most difficult time in her life. She convinced me to stay. She did not make me feel guilty for being halfway across the world and managed to have the strength to comfort me.
"Megan, we have so much love and support right now. I will need you down the road. I will need you the most a year from now."
At the time those words did not have as much meaning. I could not fathom a year from then. I just wanted to be with her in that moment. However, life had another plan.
After Italy, I began to resent volleyball. In truth, I always resented volleyball for taking me away from important life events. I felt guilty for missing everything. I believe this feeling contributed to my decision to quit the Women's National Team this summer. For once, I wanted to be present. To see my friends and their newborn babies, to cherish my family and spend precious time with my grandparents. This summer I did all of that and more, but I missed volleyball.
After taking nearly four months off, I decided to continue to play and use the gift I have been given. I signed with a professional team in Europe and left on August 15, 2015. When I arrived in Switzerland one month ago I was anxious. I could not believe I was going to be away from home for eight months.
I wondered what I was going to miss and hated that I left Madison and my family.
After a couple weeks in Switzerland I heard rumors that the girls on Team Canada wanted me to come back. The starting setter was injured, which left them with only one setter. Running a volleyball team with one setter is risky and makes practicing very difficult. I was excited about the potential opportunity, but did not think the coach would allow me to come back.
Much to my surprise, I recieved an email from the coach. He read my blog, "Why Do I Play?" and decided to give me a second chance. After the shock diminished, I cried tears of joy.
The craziest part of all of this is timing. I met with my coach and club president in Switzerland to figure out if coming back to Canada was possible. All parties agreed that I could come back to Winnipeg from September 14th to the 24th.
A year ago, Team Canada took me away from one of the most tragic events in my life and now it was bringing me back. I believe in signs. I believe that everything happens for a reason.
I believe that Parker planned this.
Up until this week I missed everything because of volleyball. I missed Parker's funeral, the golf tournament in his honor and the internment. I missed the majority of the hardest year. However, volleyball brought me back to be with Madison and her family on the emotional anniversary of his death.
I do not know why or how life happens the way it does, but I do know there is a reason for everything. Madison's mom often reminds me that "there are no coincidences."
One of my favorite feelings in this world is when everything makes sense. When all the worry and regret subsides, and the greater plan is revealed. In some instances, it happens immediately. In my case, it took months. For others, it could be years.
We may never be able to make sense of what happened a year ago, but I have faith that one day we will find peace.
Thank you, James Parker Sutherland.