Yes, it's sappy, but we lost the most important member of the Bulldog nation. It took me a while to find the words.
The life of Uga VI was a glorious nine years. Nine years of good living and good football bookended by his lifespan. It's the best third of my life thus far.
It began my first year at UGA and ended earlier this week. I was getting over VSU and my run at being straightedge. Realizing sobriety and religion were basically a quick route to loneliness as I didn't like anyone who was consistently into both (and forget about scoring with girls), I decided to practice both in moderation and enjoy myself.
Plenty of years to live in piety right?
Specifically though, it was at Uga VI's first game. I had spent a whole summer working construction during the day and delivering pizza at night. I'd saved up a grand-and-a-half that needed to be wasted on frivolity.
I'd started playing rugby and they seemed like decent people.
It was rugby that'd get me into drinking and have me develop a taste for whiskey.
There was a fellow stationed at the supply school there in Athens named John. John and his humongous steroid-pumping Navy friend were always coming to practice with us.
I was living in temporary housing in Hill Hall. My roommate was from Malaysia and was only at UGA because his girlfriend was. I hadn't met many people outside of rugby at that point, and when John told me they were tailgating right outside my dorm I said I'd drop by.
Upon arrival I encountered a nicely spread out picnic with burgers on the hibachi and a bottle of Jameson.
John offered me some. I graciously accepted. It was unbelievably smooth. It wasn't like drinking anything at all. It was like breathing whiskey-flavored air. Underage drinking in Athens. Is there anything more sacred?
It was at that game that I stumbled into some of my old acquaintances from VSU. So I tailgated with them too. That pristine and youthful bulldog took the field triumphantly in all his majesty. "Uga V's Whatchagot Loran" was immediately transformed into Uga VI by the screams of 92,000 Georgia fans.
Humans are baptised in water. Members of the Uga bloodline are baptised by roaring sound and the pure shining spirit of the Bulldog Nation.
That was one of the few games I got to see during my time at Georgia. I always held season tickets, but even at that game I felt myself getting jealous of the boys on the field.
There was still a choice. Watch the Dawgs or represent them. Play rugby. Play your heart out. Stay in shape.
It was an easy choice. The rest of my life for piety and the rest of my life to watch the Dawgs rather than represent them.
Uga VI was there the first time I drunkenly proposed to a girl in Sanford Stadium. I ended up marrying her anyway. The South Carolina Gamecocks were there as well. It was one of those blubbering moments when you're so caught up in the frenetic blur of beauty and life around you that you can't help but propose to the girl next to you.
It just seems like the right thing to do.
Especially when you'd spent the entire day tailgating in front of the Phi Delta Theta house, even though you didn't really know anyone there.
Uga VI was there on my wedding day as well. Well, he was kind of there. I got married on December 3, 2005. We had the ceremony and the reception. On the way to Chateau Elan we had the game on. We watched part of the third quarter and all of the fourth quarter from our room.
The next day we'd go to Gatlinburg where the game was playing on cable. We watched the whole thing in a room full of UT fans. It's a good feeling. Knowing that people are jealous of you always is.
Uga VI was also there for the UGA come-from-behind victory over Tech in 2006. While there were plenty of wonderful games during his time as UGA, this one is just a particularly joyous memory.
It was one of the best days of my life. The pass to Massaquoi and the explosion of excitement and elation that must've surely broadcast a psychic signal of joy into the far reaches of the universe.
Uga VI was there for what I consider to be the best football game of all-time—the blackout game vs. Auburn. Uga VI in his black jersey. The team storming the field. The rumbling roar of 96,000 screaming Dawg fans.
You couldn't help but feel sorry for Auburn.
Later, during one of the cheers I felt the third level concrete that we were standing on vibrate. It was that loud. I hope Uga VI had ear plugs. We blew through Auburn like the wind would a pile of burnt leaves, not just scattering them, but tearing them to pieces at the same time.
Who was there galvanizing our hopes for victory? Uga VI.
A couple weeks later I took a picture of him in his crate before the Kentucky game. It will grace my cell phone for a while to come. I should've gone up to him. I should've hugged him. I should've told him what I felt he meant to us.
It may have been futile, but I feel like I should've tried, even if I know he'd never understand what the words coming out of my mouth meant.
I'd like to end this with a quote from the movie 300. While the character in 300 lost a son, his words ring true for the entire Bulldog Nation. We have lost OUR son. We have lost our symbol.
"I have lived my entire life without regret until now...It's just I never told him that I loved him the most. That he stood by me with honor. That he was all that was best in me."
Right now in the sparkling utopia of heaven, amongst marble, brick, and oak, is one very happy Bulldog who has been reunited with his forefathers. There were no pearly gates for him, but rather an arch of iron.
It's a perfect day, maybe 70 degrees there. There's a slight breeze. The trees display radiant hues of yellow, orange, and, of course, red. There they are, romping and playing on a grassy sunlit field. If we could see them now, we'd see that grassy field.
We see it's reflection, as one would with a clear lake and the sky, and we'd see Sanford Stadium below us.
May the Lord bless thee and keep thee.....