12:47am, Cleveland, Ohio time, Thursday, November 3, 2016. A pitch is thrown. The throw is made from the third baseman to the first baseman. The world stops. History is turned on its ear. Some might say Hell froze over or that pigs should be airborne. The last time this event happened, there was no radio. There was no television. No one tweeted out the results. Generations have come and gone. To quote from Hamilton, “the World Turned Upside-Down.” In the midnight hour on the “morning” of November 3, 2016, the Chicago Cubs beat the American League Champion Cleveland Indians 8-7 in 10 innings to win their first World Series Championship since 1908.
On Wednesday night, you would have thought that a huge Cubs fan would have been glued to his television watching World Series Game 7. However, this huge Cubs fan is also the public address announcer for the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League-and Wednesday night was a Roadrunners home game against the Texas Stars. I was not the lone Cubs fan at the AHL hockey game that night–the game day production director–a Chicago native and lifelong Cubs fan, many rink staff members were big Cubs fans, even the EMTs were standing in the tunnel keeping an eye on the Cubs game on their phones. Me? While watching the game, tracking developments that might need announcing and reading numerous announcements, I had my phone sitting on the counter in front of me, locked to the MLB At Bat play-by-play page: no sound, no video–just a pitch-by-pitch detail of the game as it proceeded.
I’m sure my voice went up half an octave when the Cubs took their 5-1 lead, sounded a little more somber when that lead shrank to 5-3, and bottomed out when Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman served up the game-tying two-run home run to Cleveland outfielder Rajai Davis in the bottom of the eighth inning. The 17-minute rain delay at the bottom of the ninth inning was perfectly timed–as it pushed the game just late enough so that the bottom of the tenth started after the Roadrunners game ended. While the Roadrunners battled into overtime, I watched the scrolling play-by-play as Kyle Schwarber led off the tenth with his third hit, pinch-runner Albert Almora, Jr. advanced to second on a deep fly out by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo was intentionally walked with first base open, and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist laced a double down the line, scoring Almora with the go-ahead run. I watched the scroll as light-hitting Miguel Montero lined an RBI hit to the outfield scoring Anthony Rizzo with the eighth Cubs run. As the game headed to the bottom of the tenth, the Roadrunners game ended, allowing me to listen to Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer’s call of the bottom of the tenth inning. As I stood by the locker rooms listening, Mike Montgomery got Indians outfielder Michael Martinez to ground out to Kris Bryant for the final out of the 2016 season. The tears flowed.
My mother and father never saw a Cubs World Series Champion–neither did any of my grandparents. My Grandma Tillie, my father’s mother, was a huge Cubs fan. My mother was a big Cubs fan. One of my earliest desires with Micah was to take him to Wrigley Field–and I did…
Mom, dad and Micah up in the Wrigley Field upper deck, taking in Micah’s first Cubs game.
Have you ever started to tear up and cry because you’re incredibly happy–only to wind up crying for unfathomably sad reasons? This was my late Wednesday night.
For the past two weeks, I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions–incredible highs from the Cubs successes during their march to the World Series, incredible lows thinking about how I could not share those moments with my son.
Suddenly instead of waves or roller coaster-like ups and downs, my emotions became a confused patchwork. One moment happy, the next moment very sad, an hour thrilled and excited, five minutes of deep loss. It is as though someone took all my emotional moments and threw them into an air popper, which in turn tossed them back out at random intervals. From working diligently on a brief at my desk at work to dripping tears onto my desk from a saltwater-stained face in five minutes. From laughing about a hypothetical client situation with a coworker to feeling like I might just collapse into a sobbing heap in my boss’s office.
As the Cubs highlights slow down and space out, thinking about my loss has increased. My temper has become more volatile. I have become much more conscious of noise and anxiety. Pictures of Micah smiling make me more conscious of how I will never see him smile again.
In addition to everything else, today is the day that I need to pay for Micah’s headstone. I get to call the monument company and confirm his name, his date of birth, his date of death, and pay for the granite slab that will mark his body’s final resting place.
Much as I appreciate the gift that is my Cubs winning their first World Series in 108 years, much as I loved spending those wonderful hours with my brother, being a part of the World Series at Wrigley Field, I would still give it all up to just be able to nag Micah about getting his homework done, or going to hockey practice, or watching him play Xbox, or just seeing him, asleep on the sofa, with his headset still on his head from falling asleep on the Xbox. How I miss carefully taking the headset off his head and tucking a blanket over my 13- or 14- or 15-year old son and quietly telling him I love him.
I choose joy, but life delivers sadness.