I have spent the better part of the past week watching, waiting, watching and eventually celebrating the Chicago Cubs first National League Championship since 1945. Talk about the highest of highs. I have been a Cubs fan since my brother first dragged me onto the “L” back in October 1984, telling me that I needed to go to Wrigley Field with him (probably because my mother wouldn’t let him go by himself at 11 years old–but I don’t honestly remember that particular detail).
I was raised as the “fine arts” child. My brother went to Sports Camp. I went to Theater Camp. My brother played little league baseball. I auditioned for and acted in tween theater productions. My brother played high school baseball. I acted and sang (and “danced”) in high school theater productions, and sang and moved along with choreography in show choir.
I did play one summer of baseball–during eighth grade. I was the right fielder–and I think that says a ton. I couldn’t really run. I couldn’t catch, and I couldn’t hit. I think I fouled off a couple pitches, and other than that I struck out or walked. Playing that one summer did not turn me into a baseball player…but it did turn me into a student of the game.
Over the next several years, I would attend a bunch of Cubs games with my brother and would apply what I learned to being a little league baseball coach. Anyhow, I digress…
Since that October afternoon at Wrigley, some 32 years ago, I have become a huge Cubs fan. If you really know me, this is not exactly news. Got married in Cubs jerseys. Prefer cars in Cubs Blue. First personalized license plate: CUBS 95. My office…
But all the Cubs love, all the excitement and joy of watching my beloved team finally taking that next step–to the World Series tonight…nothing could go wrong, right?
Last week, I took a gamble. I wanted to do something positive, something exciting…so I bought a round trip ticket from Phoenix to Chicago for this coming Saturday. The Cubs were tied 1-1 with the Dodgers at the time, but I wanted to show how confident I was in the Cubs getting, for the first time in 71 years, to the World Series. The Cubs rewarded my faith in them on Saturday night, beating Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers 5-0 to win the National League Championship Series (NLCS) four games to two.
Fortune smiled larger on me. My plan was just to go to Chicago and watch World Series Game 4 from a bar in Wrigleyville, right across the street from the ballpark. My brother changed the plan: he offered to get tickets for one of the rooftops across the street so we could get more of the “in the ballgame” experience. So, now I will be going to Chicago early Saturday morning and watching the game from a rooftop across the street!
It’s going to be a very busy weekend, to be sure. Announcing my first regular season Tucson Roadrunners games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon, and flying to Chicago with almost all the time in between…
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as true bliss when you’re still mourning the loss of your son (or when you’re a Cubs fan either, I suppose–the Cubs lost World Series Game 1 tonight, 6-0)…
Today was one of those random days where the reminders and odd circumstances came fast and furious. From an off-hand, well-intentioned mention of Micah during a morning conversation with a coworker, to just repeating that conversation back in my head several times, to a chance and very awkward run-in with one of Micah’s friends during an appointment tonight, the reminders seemed to be everywhere. Even thinking about my Cubs trip this weekend–wondering what Micah would think about that long day’s journey into Wrigleyville–even those thoughts were invaded by my loss tonight.
So, on the one hand, I have nearly unmatched excitement about the Cubs, the World Series, being on a rooftop to watch Game 4. On the other hand, I have…
The empty room that was once his. The darkened space that was once bright with the sound of music, the laughter of youth and the teenaged boy that still wanted me to wish him good night.
The conflict is real–and inside my hear–and my mind–and my soul.
I said to a friend and coworker today, “I’m not going to be over missing him anytime soon. I won’t stop feeling the pain of his loss. But I still need to pick up and move on with my life.” Sure, there are tasks that need to be done, bills that need to be paid, responsibilities that need to be met–but every time I think I’ve moved a step forward in doing those things, I feel like I take a body blow that knocks me backwards three steps.
I’ve said it a thousand times: I know he’s not coming back. I know this isn’t an extended nightmarish dream. There is no waking up to find him getting ready for school, or sitting on the Xbox playing Minecraft, or talking on the phone to his girlfriend. There are no more hockey trips, no more shoving his goalie bag in the back of my car to take him to practice. The rink…
I have managed to scale back my time at the local rink significantly. There for the games of his favorite teammate, around for the duties that I accepted over the summer–not sure of what their long-term affect on me might be. But–no more three night a week scorekeeping. No more hanging out at the rink to watch his team practice. No more scorekeeping and announcing for the local teams at the rinks at which he used to play. Just the new, exciting world of AHL hockey announcing–my new gig with the Tucson Roadrunners that begins Friday night (and, being completely serious, I am VERY excited about that cool new opportunity in my life).
Unfortunately, it’s almost like the less time I spend at the rinks, the more it hurts when I do appear there. If it weren’t for a few friendly faces that always welcome me there, I think I would have had to end those visits a couple months ago.
The battle rages on. I just need to keep up my strength so I can continue to fight.