You won't be able to shake the horror of Denmark's Christian Eriksen collapsing on the field during their Euro 2020 opener with Finland in Copenhagen's Parken Stadium on Saturday for a while. Hopefully, you won't be able to shake the humanity that followed, either. Or the perspective that seeing paramedics fighting to save the life of a 29-year-old father -- a fit athlete in the prime of his career -- brings to all of us. Sports, career, money ... it all crumbles to dust when faced with what really matters: life.
Maybe this is why the moment resonated worldwide, broken down to its individual components:
Eriksen's teammates forming a human tent around his prone body, shielding him from prying eyes and, at the same time, shielding us from witnessing the moment the light might go out. And all this without knowing if it had, in fact, gone out and whether their gesture was the equivalent of pulling the sheet over a patient's face.
Eriksen's longtime partner, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, the mother of their two children, dressed in his No. 10 national team jersey, being consoled, powerless, the width of a football pitch away, by his captain, Simon Kjaer and his goalkeeper, Kasper Schmeichel.
The paramedics racing across the pitch and working to do what they've been trained to do, something that ought to be routine to them, but which suddenly becomes the most important job in the world.
The supporters, shocked, unsure, decked in Finnish and Danish colors, some with their faces painted, some shirtless, all terrified by what they were seeing.
And then, in front of screens worldwide, whether TV or social media, the collective worry, the hunger for updates. Mortality is one trait that all of us, rich or poor, share. And no, the fact that all of us, to whatever degree, have spent the past 15 months battling a pandemic that has taken so many lives doesn't prepare us. Not when it's like this. Not when it's so sudden.
That's when those who are blessed with faith -- and some who aren't -- pray. Or put their faith in reason and knowledge and the skill of those working to save Eriksen's life. Or both. In those moments, waiting for updates, many of us wondered about the cruelty of it all. This tournament, originally scheduled for last summer, was supposed to be a continent's first baby step on the way back to some semblance of normality, the first light of dawn after the long nightmare we've endured -- and continue to endure.
In those moments, those who love this sport -- and even those who just dropped in for the moment -- were as one.
Then the news trickled in. From UEFA. From the Danish Football Association. From Eriksen's agent.
He was conscious. He was talking. He was stable.
"I just spoke to Christian's father, and he told me that he is breathing, and that he is able to speak," Martin Schoots, Eriksen's agent, told Dutch radio.
"Moments like this put everything in life into perspective," UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said in a statement.
As Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said, "Christian is one of our best players, is one of the best players there is, and he's an even better person. So, all my thoughts and all my positive energy go out to Christian."
The fans at Copenhagen's Parken stadium, many of whom steadfastly remained, cheered, just as they had done earlier with the sort of call-and-response between Finns and Danes that gives you goose bumps. The match resumed. Finland won 1-0. And Christian Eriksen was given the Star of the Match award.
"Denmark lose. Life wins." That was the headline the Danish paper Ekstrabladet chose for its Sunday edition. It was hard to disagree.
The rest of us said thank you, to God, to medicine, to the men and women who looked after Eriksen. And we felt a little bit more connected and a little more human.