I purposely waited to write this.  I needed to give myself space, an opportunity to let the pain from the venomous sting subside.

I haven’t watched ESPN since Saturday, nor a single game on Sunday.  I didn’t want any reminders or opportunities to ruminate about the Saints loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The Cowboys.  The team that almost every NFL expert wrote off before the game.  The ESPN Sunday Night Football prognosticators unanimously picked the Saints over the Boys.  (Yes, even Ditka.)

I was initially peeved that the NFL Network picked the game up.  Apparently, you need DirecTV or Dish Network in order to watch NFL Network games in Hawaii.  (I wonder how long it takes before we’ll be watching the Super Bowl on a pay-per-view basis.  More on that rant another time….)  But in actuality, it was godsend.  I had other things to do, and considering how things turned out, I would’ve been more wound-up had I actually witnessed what transpired.

At the beginning of the game, I was monitoring the score on TV and couldn’t believe me eyes when it was 14-0 in favor of the Cowboys.  How could that be? It only got worse as I watched the live ticker on ESPN; it was 17-3 at the half.  I had to stop watching.  By the time I saw the score again (at the end of the 3rd. quarter), the Saints were losing 24-3.  I fired up my laptop and went to ESPN.com to get live coverage of the game.  By the time I logged on, the score had changed to 24-10, and then 24-17.  Was it going to happen again? The Saints were coming back.

The Cowboys were pinned deep on their side of the field; it was 3rd. down and they needed 17 yards for a first down.  The magic was beginning to work.  The Cowboys would have to punt, and Drew Brees would march down the field, score a touchdown, and send the game into overtime.

But the unthinkable happened; the Cowboys not only got a first down, but marched the ball to midfield on one play.  It didn’t get any better, and the Boys soon had the ball knocking on the Saints end-zone–well within any decent NFL kicker’s range.  So with just about 2 minutes left, the Cowboys sent place-kicker, Nick Folk, out to kick a 24 yard field goal (almost the equivalent of a PAT) to lock the game up.  The magic did happen; Folk shanked his kick and it bounced off of the right upright.

By this time, my wife and children were waiting for me to get off of the computer so we could all head down to the swimming pool.  We were staying at the local Marriot because my daughters had their holiday hula ho’ike (hula recital) on Sunday night.  But because there was a final rehearsal, picture-taking, and preparation to happen Sunday morning and afternoon, my wife and I decided to stay at the hotel instead of commuting with all of the kids back and forth from all of the different activities.

So I asked them to wait.  Drew Brees was able to overcome two 4th. downs and drive the Saints into Dallas territory.  My wife and kids were getting agitated waiting for me, and I was getting agitated because the game was too close–again! But, was the mojo there?  Was it going to happen again? And then the inevitable…Brees got sacked by DeMarcus Ware and lost the ball….

I haven’t felt that kind of pain I felt at that moment for a long, long, long time.  I remember being so consumed by a loss in the past that my entire day would be ruined.  Pretty sad when you think about it.  As I got older–say when I was in my mid-twenties–I was able to put the losses on the side and go on with the rest of my day.  Aside from some special ones (like the Saints loss to the Jags in 2003), I’ve been very good at accepting and moving on.  After all, I have a wife and children that need my attention, and other responsibilities to focus my time and energy on.

I was a little nervous about this one.  I thought I was going to get derailed.  Those old feelings were bubbling up from the depths of my youth….

But I realized something.  Here I was, at a nice hotel with my wife and children, which never happens.  My children, who are all very young, were so excited about being there, and I was feeling like moping around.  What the heck was I thinking?

I am happy to say that I was able to go to the pool with the family without being an ornery grouch.  Once we got back upstairs, had dinner, and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which my children really enjoyed, I kind of forgot about the loss.  I told myself to let it go and enjoy the time with my family.  That’s why I decided I didn’t want to see, hear, or think about sports for the rest of the weekend.

By the next morning, we were all clamoring about to get to the dress-rehearsal and picture-taking on time.  The game was the furthest thing in my mind.  By the time evening rolled around, all I could think about was getting some nice pictures of my daughters dancing on stage.  When my sons and I went into the ballroom to sit down, we met my in-laws who were already there.  When we joined them, I noticed a guy who was sitting a couple of rows in front of us.  He had a Dallas Cowboys hat on.  I rolled my eyes.  What’s the chances of that? I thought.

By then, the show was to begin.  My oldest daughter was invited to perform a special dance that evening, so I had to rush to the front to get some pictures.  I felt so proud when she came out on stage and performed.  I was caught up in the moment.  I waited near the side and rushed to the front to get pictures of my youngest daughter when she came out to dance.  And then again, when my oldest girl came out again.  After my daughters’ last dance, I went back to sit down in my seat.  I saw the Dallas Cowboy guy again.  I looked at the “Cowboys” embroidered on the back of his hat and smiled.  So the Saints lost…my family won….

So here I am, Monday evening at home with my kids.  There’s a nice crispness in the air tonight–a nice sense of calm.  The children aren’t fighting with each other and they’re quietly watching Phineas and Ferb while I type away.

I think I will watch the late news tonight…maybe even the sports.  I don’t think there is much that can derail me tonight.