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A Letter From the Editor: A healthy distraction

There are times when life punches you in the gut, and having a healthy outlet/distraction is always good.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

There are many times throughout my life where I am very thankful for having this job. Yes, it’s a job, but this is also an outlet. A place for me to go and literally get lost in nothing but Pittsburgh Steelers news, information and discussion for as long as I need.

What is it I need?

Sometimes it’s an escape, sometimes it provides a sense of community, and sometimes it is a healthy distraction from reality.

In the last couple days, this site and my podcasts have definitely been a healthy distraction.

Friday morning, as I was leaving the gym about to drive to work, I saw my phone had some texts as I was walking out the doors. One was from my father telling me my uncle had passed away.

Just for clarity, my uncle had been sick with cancer, but no one saw the precipitous decline coming. We went from making a trip back home to see him, to suddenly planning a trip to pay our respects.

My uncle wasn’t the most die hard Steelers fan, but he was a huge part of my life as I grew up. He was the husband to my dad’s sister, and I spent a lot of time at their house as a kid. Probably way more time than I should. However, it’s not my fault my aunt could never say no to me coming over. I spent so much time there I’m sure there were occasions where my uncle would come home from work and think, “Good Lord that Hartman kid is here again.”

In hindsight, I don’t blame him. When my cousin Chris and I were paired together, it usually resulted in mayhem. Mayhem in harassing my younger cousin Michael, and, of course, pestering my uncle until he snapped. I don’t know why, but we got such a rise out of getting a rise out of him. We found it hilarious, which just made him even angrier.

But my uncle wasn’t a nasty man. In fact, he was incredibly patient. The amount of crap he put up with from the two of us was enough to result in a homicide investigation for a typical man. Yet he always seemed to find a way to deescalate and ended up laughing with us.

The stories I could tell about that man and the laughs we had, most of the time at his expense, would take up several articles. But that isn’t the point of this article. This article is about how thankful I am to have these outlets to be a distraction. Losing my uncle hurt...bad. But when I sat down to edit, schedule or write articles I was able to focus my attention on something which wasn’t the hurt and loss of a loved one. As I prepped for my podcast, I was able to think of something other than the memories which kept running through my head.

Some people turn to unhealthy means of distraction, but for me it’s the Steelers. It’s this site. And for that, even in these difficult times, I’m thankful.

When I think of my uncle now, I know he is better off than the way he was living. He wasn’t living, he was just existing. Now, he doesn’t feel pain. He doesn’t have the discomfort. And he isn’t suffering.

Today, I use this distraction to pay homage to the man who helped mold who I am today. Who taught me what real patience looks like. For that, and so much more, I’ll miss you Uncle Bob.

Until we meet again...

(The Letter From the Editor article runs every Sunday during the Pittsburgh Steelers offseason.)