COLUMN: Meeting Ryan Tastsos' parents taught me something about life — be present, don't wait


Elio Sante Mug

Ryan Tsatsos and my brother, Nico Stante, met each other. In their senior year, they both lined up on the same football field. Tsatsos playing for Warren De LaSalle and Stante playing for Detroit Catholic Central.

During the game, they might have made contact with each other

Both of them walked off the field the day their teams played each other.

The next year, only one would live after being involved in separate traffic accidents.

Tsatsos was struck and killed by a car on Crawford Road. Two months later, my brother rolled and totaled his truck.

A few weeks ago, two of my coworkers and I met Tsatsos’ parents before a press conference.

His mother told us how worried she was when he told her he wanted to play football and how she tried to keep him from playing. Her eyes lit up as she laughed about how she eventually gave in when she understood how happy playing football made her son.

The light in her eyes faded. The smile on her face turned into a quiver as she held back her tears.

Tsatsos’ father reached over and held her hand in comfort. He proudly added how in one year, his son went from a “string bean” to 185 pounds of muscle and played in the state championship game.

In that moment, I saw my parents.

The night Nico rolled his truck could very well have been the night my family gathered to mourn a lost son and brother.

When I thought back to that day, my brother and I had talked on the phone. We joked about me being lazy at school, our mother living in California — just our average conversation. Before I hung up I said, “OK. See you soon.”

If he had died that night, that would have been the last thing I told him.

“See you soon.”

Would I have constantly relived the moment I hung up, knowing I’d never be able to tell him I loved him? Would I constantly think about our last conversation? I know those three words would have haunted me, because I’d never have another chance to let him know how much he meant to me.

Meeting Tsatsos’ parents made me realize just how short of an amount of time I have spent with people in my life.

I’m 22 years old — I don’t think about death. I don’t think about time. I’m not supposed to.

I’m supposed to worry about if my car is going to make it to campus, how I’m going to pay rent or how I’m going to pay off my student loans.

Now, those things don’t seem so terrifying.

There are so many things I let consume my life that really should be secondary. I know those will be there. They can always be taken care of.

If there was only one thing I could take away from meeting Tsatsos’ parents, it would be to know how important the present is. Be less concerned about tomorrow and think more about today.

Don’t be an idiot like me and wait for some chance encounter to slap some sense into you. Tell your family how much they mean to you and be happy you can talk to them.

They won’t be there forever. No matter how young or healthy they are, freak accidents can happen.

It might sound sappy or cliché, but don’t think there will always be tomorrow for loved ones.

Don’t wait to tell them you love them.

I know now I shouldn’t have.

Nico, I love you.

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