The Next Morning

…continued from ‘My Darkest Night’

The next morning arrived without any more words. I could tell Laurie still wasn’t free from the terrible feelings from the night before, and I couldn’t blame her. It was summer, so we were out of school for vacation and had nowhere to go. I was sitting on the couch downstairs and Laurie was in the kitchen. The mood was somber, so very quiet. I was still feeling emotionally drained from the night before. Even with Laurie’s kind act I was scared to death of what might happen next. What if the evil returned, and if it did what would I do?

Suddenly the phone rang. Nobody calls us on our landline anymore. Who could it be? Normally I would ignore it, but this morning for some reason, I picked it up and said hello. I heard, “Is this Larry Carr?” I said, “Yes it is.” The voice on the other end continued, “Larry, this is Mike Middleton, Executive Director of the Cougar Club at BYU. I am calling to let you know you have been selected to be inducted into the BYU Athletic Hall of Fame. We would like to induct you at a ceremony this September…”

I didn’t hear anything else he said, I dropped the phone and began to weep. Laurie saw what was happening and quickly came over and picked up the phone and began talking to Mr. Middleton. I cannot express the surprise, even the shock of that phone call. Why would it come now, some thirty-six years after I finished playing? How could I be elected to the HOF? I didn’t know a lot about the process but I did not believe I met an important requirement. I had a successful career at BYU, but was overlooked by every mainstream All-American selection process.

I was chosen to the “Pop Warner All-American” team, but that certainly couldn’t be considered a well-recognized award. It made no sense, but it was happening. Right now, the very morning after I came so close to giving in, so close to throwing everything away. I couldn’t comprehend it; I wasn’t processing what was happening. It kept running over and over in my mind why, why now, why today, why last night?”

Right up to the very day of receiving notice of the Hall of Fame award, I had lost hope and considered ending my life. I had a wife, children and grand-kids who loved me very much. I had a good job, but none of that mattered. I have come to realize since then the power of the brain disease is so crushing I was, at times, helpless. I had avoided an unconscionable action once, would I be able to fight the disease again? In a moment of great despair, I didn’t consider anyone or anything because the pain had to stop and I falsely determined there was only way out.

While so many others have given in to this terrible and irreversible act, somehow I escaped. How was that possible? Every one of the football players who committed suicide was later diagnosed with CTE. Nearly 100% of athletes who experienced the symptoms of CTE were subsequently diagnosed with the disease. I have the symptoms and have been diagnosed with brain damage; I know I have it. So how did I do it? How did I survive that one night just to receive the news of a life-changing honor the very next morning? And how did receiving the award give me the strength to avoid a repeat of the incident? How did I keep going?

My answer to these questions is simple.  I believe I was saved from my self- destructive actions because I needed to live. There was a reason for me to continue, something I needed to do. I know some might take issue with my statement and ask, ‘why you?’ and not the many others who weren’t saved? I can’t answer that question, and I certainly can’t answer it to the satisfaction of those family members who lost a loved one, but I can’t deny it either. For some reason, I had enough resilience left within me to fight back, just enough to keep going and not submit. Had I not been unexpectedly cut from the Calgary Stampeeders so many years ago, perhaps I would have just been another name on the long list of CTE victims and this story never gets told. Maybe even the discovery of light and CTE never comes out. Whatever the reason I am determined to now focus on the light at the end of the tunnel.

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