If you were the ice you would likely wish it were summer, when you weren’t frozen and being sliced into or shaven. If you were the ice you would be bumpy and covered with a thin layer of snow that fell overnight. If you were the ice you would have the best view. You would see the tall, naked trees from an angle that made them look as if they skimmed the clouds. You would see the undersides of pine trees where the squirrels dig for nuts. You would see the sun, and from this angle it would illuminate in all directions rather than one. You would see our cheap spotlights surrounding the border of your brittle self. You might even feel the heat from their bulbs hit you when it was dark out. You would see the bottoms of birds, some so large they would remind you of Jesus. You would see the moon as large as yourself. You would see stars too, of course, more than the human eye could. If you were the ice you would feel our finely sharpened blades become duller by the day. You would feel our freshly taped sticks—some taped white, some black—become scragglier by the day. You would feel our knees and elbows strike you, but it wouldn’t hurt you at all. Occasionally, you would feel our heads or noses strike you, too. You would feel our sweaty, stinky gloves fall onto you then push back off. Every second, you would feel the rubber puck slide against your rough body, sometimes bouncing, sometimes tumbling. If you were the ice, you would see our worn-out jerseys—none of them matching. You would see our eyes water from slicing through the cold air, our noses leaking snot, our bright red cheeks, sometimes featuring a fresh cut. You would see the laughs and you would see the smiling.
But when Andy Potter, my closest friend, stopped us from beginning our fourth game of the afternoon by saying, “I need to tell you guys something, before it’s just too late,” and we all gathered around him, curious faces, as he stood there with his eyes closed, slouched atop his ice skates, leaning against his beat-up stick, and took a deep breath and told us, “I have leukemia,” you wouldn’t feel anything, if you were the ice. You wouldn’t feel our silence or our tears freezing against our cheeks. But you would know why after ten minutes we went back to playing pond hockey for the rest of the day.