In past years, the month of April has been bittersweet. While on the one hand it assures us that spring is on its way, that Easter is around the corner and that the weather should be warming up, it has also traditionally been the yearly starting point of insanity known as “baseball season”.
Baseball was big in our home. Myron was a lifelong fan of the sport and played on a men’s team until our second child arrived. When Lauren was five, he put her in softball. By the time she was seven, he was coaching. One year he coached two teams, Lauren’s and Bryn’s, which almost killed the both of us, but most recently, it was the older girls he was working with.
Watching very small children play baseball is…excruciating. Bless their little hearts, it’s a great sport but its about as exciting as watching a garden slug run a marathon. We put Bryn in t-ball when she was five and were pleased that she was excited. For two weeks she was enthusiastic and then she kind of lost interest. I was driving her home one night and asked how she was liking t-ball. “It’s okay,” she said, frowning, “but when do we finally get the TEA?” Poor Bryn. She was under the impression that it involved some sort of tea party. However, she persevered and became a good little player. Taeryn began her first year two summers ago and Lauren’s team continued on to Provincials in Myron’s last year of coaching. We were all touched to the heart when his entire team came to the funeral in their uniforms. I will never forget that.
Last year for the first time in ages, there was no baseball in our home. April came and went. Driving by the fields made me cry. Lauren broke down after visiting the team at a game for the first time. I didn’t know if anyone would ever play again, which I know would have made Myron very, very sad.
So, this Easter Monday found me sitting on our deck, wrestling with Lauren’s fast pitch helmet. She missed all of last season because of the injuries to her arm, but has been working hard at physiotherapy, over the year has slowly been improving, and was now looking at her first game of the season. After two days of searching for her equipment, we found the bag in the garage where her batting helmet and gloves were. There I also found the brand new cage (wire mask that attaches to the front of the helmet so she doesn’t get a ball in the face) Myron had bought three years ago, sitting in it’s wrapper, unattached.
I love my husband, but he had a terrible tendency to procrastinate. (Note early blog entry about our honeymoon where he vowed to get counselling for this problem. Never got around to it.) The mask wasn’t actually attached to the helmet, so I got out the tools, opened the instructions and began putting it together only to find out he had bought the wrong cage for her type of helmet.
“MYRON!” I found myself yelling at the sky. “FOR PETE’S SAKE, YOU BOUGHT THE WRONG CAGE!” It took me two hours to manipulate a four screw cage to fit a three screw helmet, but after taking it apart four times and adapting a few things, I got it on straight and sent her off to the game…where she found out the cage was also too heavy for her helmet, tipping it forward, rendering it useless and forcing her to borrow one from another player.
I use to dread baseball season because everything we did suddenly revolved around the team schedule. Meals were scheduled around practices, tournaments took over weekends, every minute was scheduling and drills, coaches meetings and training, clinics, games, the detailed stats Myron kept on every player. It dominated our lives. It drove me crazy. But Myron loved it. Loved it. Every year he became obsessed and I’d lie in bed listening as he went over every single play of the night, all the ump’s calls, what each girl did or didn’t do and his plans for the next day.
It seems impossible, but I miss it.
I don’t think its easy for Lauren to play without her dad there, watching, coaching, cheering her on. I know it hasn’t been easy for his assistant coach who has taken over the team, who misses his friend and the time they had together. It is the second spring without him and its just not the same. Plus now I have to go find a new cage and I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to get. Karson insists he will never play baseball. I wonder why and hope some day this changes. Even if it means having to endure those introductory, mind-numbing games all over again.
On Sunday we went to the North Shore to meet friends who were taking us to their cabin for the afternoon. As we waited at the marina, I was talking to a gentleman who said, “It’s too bad you weren’t here earlier today…you missed about 100 dolphins that swam by, right over there!” My mouth was hanging open and then I had to laugh. I missed them AGAIN! First in Mexico then right here in our own backyard. But it didn’t sting as much this time. Because for the past two weeks we’ve had dolphins showing up all over the place. Metaphorically.
Dolphins showing up unexpectedly to clean out the garage and take everything away; dolphins who fixed the kids bikes and our backdoor.
Dolphins who gave us a used swimming pool out of the blue. Our old one was ruined and I had been praying to find one for the three other kids to use this summer as I might not be able to move Bryn anywhere after her surgery and they‘d be stuck at home.
Dolphins who left anonymous gifts both in our mailbox and at our back door.
Dolphins sending birthday cards, giving hugs, rides, and a meal on some very difficult days. This month, dolphins have been everywhere. And I’ve seen them all.
And then there was a whale, of sorts. A bizarre message that I wonder if anyone who misses Myron might take as much comfort in as I do. A medical practitioner who never knew or met Myron, who didn’t know us until she became part of the huge team of people treating us this past year, had a dream. She told us that in all the years she’s practiced, she’s never had a dream involving clients. But this week she did.
She was sent to heaven to deliver a pizza, of all things. Walking down a street that looked like a street in Disneyland, she found herself repeating, “The father of…, the father of…,” not knowing why. She knew she had to find building number 17 and when she did, went inside. The room was filled with people, but she noticed one man in particular and said, “The father of…the father of... Karson! Are you the father of Karson?” She knew it was Myron, and he smiled a big smile and said with great joy, “I am!”
“Are you Myron?” she asked.
“Yes!” he said.
“I know your kids!” she said in amazement. “How are you?”
Myron smiled and said, “I’m doing great!” She realized that he was busy doing a job, that he had been given a job in heaven, not a stuffy office job (her words) but that he was organizing something, socializing with the people around him and that they were all having fun. She realized she was supposed to deliver the pizza to him and after she gave it to him, woke up.
He is well. He is happy. He has been given the task of organizing things, which if you knew Myron, makes more sense than I can explain, and he is enjoying the people around him. She asked Taeryn, “Why would I be delivering pizza?” Taeryn said, “I don’t know…but my dad sure loved it!”
Its funny what you miss, and what you take comfort in. I’m grateful for it all. The other night at supper, Karson dropped his fork and yelled, “I just realized that daddy is talking to JESUS! He’s dancing with Jesus!” He looked at us with huge eyes. “That’s SO cool!”
It is. Not always easy to live with. But so very cool.
A NOTE: An amazing CD has been written and recorded by the very talented Steve Mitchinson and produced by the incredible Philip Janz, called “Giver of Life”. I wanted to put a link to it here as it is a beautiful collection of original songs designed for those who are in the end-stages of life. Steve Mitchinson is a British physician who now lives in B.C.’s lower mainland and has felt a special calling to care for the palliative. His CD is soothing, thought-provoking, and an oasis in the midst of suffering. I would highly encourage anyone who is either in the end-stages of earthly life or grieving the loss of a loved-one to follow this link. I was asked to write a review for it on Itunes, and it was an honour to do so.