It started with a whimper and, like most meltdowns, ended spectacularly.

A tear dropped, then two more, before a river of anguish enveloped his 8-year-old face.

“I really, really didn’t want the Patriots to lose,” my distraught son said in a pitch that wasn’t quite a scream but was wasn’t quite a whisper, either. “I am NOT going to school tomorrow.”

Oh, boy.

The agony — caused moments earlier when the Denver Broncos held off the punchless Patriots 20-18 in the AFC championship game — was real. Too real.

The boy continued through an avalanche of tears.

“I really wanted them to win. Badly. Really, really, really badly.”

There are times, moments really, when parents unanticipatedly see themselves in their children. It can be beautiful or harrowing, depending on the situation.

On Sunday afternoon, as the sting of defeat started to settle, the latter presented itself.

Let’s take a waltz through time, shall we?

Oct. 25, 1986. Game 6 of the World Series. Red Sox and the hated Mets at Shea Stadium in Queens, New York.

As an 11-year-old Red Sox fanatic, I was beside myself to see history. The Red Sox were going to win the World Series and no curse or bedtime were going to stand in the way.

The game, you may recall, was stressful yet blissful for a good seven innings. The Sox were winning, of course, and World Series victory was in our clutches.

Then, you may also recall, disaster ensued. The Sox blew a 3-2 lead in the eighth but surged ahead 5-3 in the 10th on a home run by the immortal Dave Henderson and single by Marty Barrett.

Needing three outs to win the Series, the Sox got just two. The game — and Series, for that matter — unraveled in the bottom of the frame, thanks in (large) part to a wild pitch and an error behind the bag at first.

The Mets, incredibly and painfully, won 6-5.

Like my son Sunday, the tears came just slowly at first, like the first few flakes at the dawn of a fast-approaching blizzard. Then, deluge. Torrent. Earthslide.

It was all happening.

My parents, God (help) bless them, did their best to console the inconsolable.

“It will all be OK,” I remember them saying.

None of it helped and I retreated to the bedroom, where the cataclysm continued. I don’t remember how or when peace arrived, but (mercifully) it did.

Eventually.

Two nights later, the Mets put a bow on the World Series with an 8-5 come-from-behind victory. Tears flowed again, but the scene was far less dramatic when compared to Game 6 — likely because this loss seemed inevitable prior to first pitch.

The following day, I wore one of my favorite Sox T-shirts to school, just because.

It took a little time to get over the Wreck of ’86, but I did, thanks to the help of G.I. Joe, Transformers and Legos — three staples of my youth.

The Series setback also strengthened my affection for the Sox.

It would take years for this realization to come, but it came nonetheless.

With the Broncos still celebrating on Sports Authority Field at Mile High, I hugged my son and said the first words that came to mind: “It will all be OK.”

I shared my 1986 experience with him and explained that, unlike Dad at the time, he had already witnessed and celebrated a world championship from his favorite team.

To fully appreciate a victory, it’s important to know defeat.

I think it sounded somewhat convincing.

He didn’t want to hear it — much like I felt on a late October evening about three decades earlier — but he listened anyway.

Later, after the hurt subsided, he asked if he could wear his “Gronk Nation” shirt to school the next day because he was still a “proud Pats fan.”

That’s my boy.

Bill Stewart —621-5618

[email protected]

Twitter: @billstewartMTM


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