Boyhood Dreams Come True

Pirates Camp 

To say that my husband is a baseball fan is a bit of an understatement.  You know that seasonal affective disorder where people get depressed during the winter months? I believe my husband has a touch of baseball affective disorder.  He looks forward to opening day the way a child looks forward to Christmas morning.  He watches our local Pittsburgh Pirates and is a season ticket holder.  He has coached our children’s baseball and softball teams.  He plays on two adult baseball leagues.  When I first met him, he played up to four nights a week in local softball leagues.  He reads the Major League Baseball rule book every year ‘for fun’.  Even with all these details, I still find it hard to convey just how much he truly loves baseball in a few sentences. He eats, sleeps and breathes baseball.

Last year, I surprised my husband by signing him up for the Pittsburgh Pirates Fantasy Camp. He was an amazing husband and he was particularly wonderful while I was battling cancer.  This is a gift I wanted to give him.  The year before the camp had filled up so there were no spots available.  This year, I was determined to get him on that roster.  I contacted the man in charge and found out that there was one spot available.  I know God held that spot open for him. After all the details were finalized, I sent him on a scavenger hunt around our local area with clues that ended up here in our home where he was presented with the welcome letter for fantasy camp.

He couldn’t sleep the night before.  He was too excited.  He arrived at PNC Park and found a uniform hanging in the locker room with his name on the back along with his number, #9.  He sent me a picture from his phone.  The kids and I drove down to see him play his first game. He was suited up in a major league uniform, out on the field, ready to play the game he loved since he was a little boy.  I don’t think the smile ever left his face.

He was living his dream.  He played second. He played third. He played short stop.  He even had a chance to pitch from the pitcher’s mound at PNC Park. He had good hits. He made good plays.  He dove. He got his uniform dirty. He had an injury badge of honor. He was so happy.  I was so happy for him.

He had so much fun, he went again this year.  Although the second time around may not have been quite as ‘magical’, he still had an amazing time.  I got to watch him play again but this time, I was able to focus on the big picture. The year before, I don’t think I took my eyes off of him.  This year, I could watch the game, watch all the players and take in the whole experience.

These were all grown men. They had all lived a lot of ‘life’. They had families – wives, children, some had grandchildren. They had careers. They were strong.  They were heads of households, heads of departments, heads of companies. That following Monday, they would all go back to their mountain of responsibilities but until then, they could live out their childhood dreams. They were a million things but tonight, they were all just little boys playing the game of baseball. Like special effects in a movie, I could easily imagine the little boy inside each of those grown men, standing out there in a uniform way too big for them. I felt so blessed being able to sit there and watch those men, especially my husband, out on that field. We were all part of something very special. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Borrowed Time

I gave my son a hug last night before bed.  He always tried to extend the nighttime ritual and he knew asking for extra hugs was a good way to do it.  I always told my children that I would never say ‘no’ to a hug.  I heard one time that you should hug your children, really hug them, and hold onto them until they let go.  You never knew how much hugging your child needed so you should hold onto them until they were ready to let go.  I tried to always remember that. So, as I was hugging my son, his head in the crook of my neck like he did when he was a baby; I just held on.  I felt his breath on my neck and smelled the scent of shampoo in his hair.  I rubbed his back gently and soaked in every last drop of him.  I didn’t want him to let go.  I wanted to hold him like that forever.

It had been a stressful day.  After work, I managed to get through our evening activities and then was thankful that it was bedtime.  I couldn’t wait to get the kids to bed and just take a moment. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch or have a cup of tea or maybe go to bed.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted but I just wanted a break.  Then, in the middle of that long nighttime hug, I started to cry.  The tears fell from my eyes but I wiped them before they hit my cheeks so my son didn’t know.  Those tears were full of the hits I took in stride all day, the words I held inside, the feelings of not measuring up. I held on tighter to my seven year old son and hoped that he didn’t let go.  It wasn’t just him who needed that hug. 

Whenever I got stressed out, overwhelmed or felt inadequate; I remembered one thing. I was still here. These moments, simple ones,  these were the ones I was afraid I was going to miss. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I used to wonder if I would be there to tuck in the kids at bedtime. See, I look at things differently. I am now living on what I call “borrowed time”.

Everything was different now.  I felt like each day was a bonus, a gift from God to work on living this life the way I wanted. When I was diagnosed, things changed instantaneously. As soon as I found out I had cancer, all I wanted was to be with my children and my family. So many things that were important on August 30th weren’t so important any more on August 31st. I used to have big plans for my business. I had just opened a second child care center but I wanted more, maybe 4 of them. If that went well, why not open more? Now, work was the last thing on my mind. I didn’t want to spend my time and my energy on work. I wanted to spend my time and energy on life.

Not that I didn’t still love what I did. I just realized that what I had … was enough. All that I had was enough. I didn’t need a bigger business. I didn’t need more things. I didn’t need anything but my family and the people who rallied around me in my time of need. When I finished my treatment and I had a second chance at this life, I vowed to do it right this time. I was going to live a simpler life. I was going to stop worrying about the wrong things and start focusing on the right ones.

But that night… as I hugged my son…I knew that I had to make a change. As life was slowly returning to normal, I seemed to have forgotten all those lessons I had learned during my fight with cancer. I was getting caught up in the every day, the hustle and bustle and forgetting to enjoy the here and now and let the little things go. God gives us moments and if we are open to them, we can learn from them. I believe that hug from my son was a moment, a lesson and a gift from God. It was a reminder that even when I had a bad day, life was full of blessings. As I hugged my little boy, I let go of all of those things that clutter my mind and I let love and peace fill my heart.