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Friday, June 2, 2017

Walk Off

(Warning, Dear Reader. This post is utterly indulgent and dramatic and sappy and full of emotional mommy moments. You might roll your eyes or shake your head or want to never read here again because GET A GRIP, LADY. IT'S JUST BASEBALL. I'm having a moment. A few moments from now, you can rest assured, that I will be yelling at this kid to hang up his towel, stop leaving his nasty shoes every where and get off the couch and walk the darn dog, for the love.)

As a volunteer in the pediatric cancer community, I understand to a very, very small degree what is a true, final ending for a parent. Although as much as I can try to empathize, can sit in a pew at a child's funeral, can pray and listen and hug a grieving mama, I will not ever really understand that ending unless it happens to me. I know that. And through all the feelings I've had as these milestones for my oldest come and go - the random tears while I'm at Subway about to order him the same sandwich he's always wanted or as I watch elementary school children cross the street or stumble on an old photo - I am consistently reminding myself that these feelings of loss and yearning for the past are temporary, not in any way truly tragic.

But feelings are feelings and moms have lots of them. I read once that you don't have to feel guilt about your sadness just because someone else has it worse anymore than you should shrug off feeling happy just because someone out there has circumstances that might warrant greater happiness. So I let the feelings come and then pep talk myself right out of them.

You can imagine the big bowl of crazy it has been to live with me lately.

So the ending showed up in heartbreaking fashion for my first boy's final high school baseball season. We blessedly were able to extend the season by a few games, take some road trips, cheer some amazing plays and hits, cross our fingers and toes, pray some prayers, high five and hug and marvel at how we held a team - one that very few outside of our players and coaches and fans thought we had a chance to beat - scoreless into extra innings. So when the end came with our opponent's victorious walk off hit and a final score of 1-0, I braced myself to watch my player's own walk off.

I stood near the fence, peering out over the dugout and I am astonished at how vividly I can remember certain moments and how hazy are others. I remember all the jerseys over all of the years. We had Braves and Rockies and Dodgers and Pirates and Red Sox and Loudoun South All-Stars. Eagles and Bulldogs and Eagles again. I remember a diving catch he made playing 1st when he was maybe eleven when he came up looking shocked that the ball was in his glove. I remember him tagging that crazy fast guy trying to steal 2nd in an All-Star game at a crucial moment when he was twelve.  I remember him botching more than a few catches and striking out more times that we can count as well. I remember the golden year he and his little brother played on the same team when Kyle was pitching and he whispered encouragement in his ear, patted him on the butt and trotted back to his position. I remember the fact that he desperately needed a haircut his sophomore year but refused because surely that would break his hitting streak. I remember the dirt stains that wouldn't come out and the smelly cleats and the falling asleep in the car on the way home from tournaments. I remember sending him out the door to climb in the truck with his dad for practice only to have him return seconds later to grab the oft forgotten water bottle off the kitchen counter. I remember how easy it was to pick out his voice among a chorus of boys shouting encouragement and silliness to their teammates from the dugout.

I could sit here for days remembering, but ain't nobody got time for that. There's a bigger game to be played now. Over countless baseball seasons, we saw him succeed and we saw him fail. There are well more failures than successes in baseball. This is why I'm grateful for the influence of this game in my boys' lives because this is what they will face in all of their future days.

As there were in baseball, in life there will be those who are better than him. There will be those who are not. But if his first eighteen years are an indication, he will stay humble in success and hungry in the face of disappointment. He will keep swinging. He will pull himself up off the field, wipe the dirt off and hustle back to the dugout to await his next at bat.

As he came off the field he indulged his mommy and walked straight into her arms. He is not my pudgy faced tee baller any more. As shaving was not an option while the team was still winning, my little boy's whiskers scratched my cheek and he sighed and sniffed. Then he walked straight to his dad and did the same. And I knew.

The walk off of the field is not the ending. It is the beginning. It is time now.  It is time to walk on. The path is wide open.

I love you with my entire heart, #8. From home plate to the centerfield wall. I have loved watching you play and I am grateful every moment for the chance to continue to be your biggest fan. Walk on.

1 comment:

CKidsMom said...

That was lovely..... brought tears into my eyes....