My son got a new hat the other day. There was really nothing special about it. If anything, it looked like one of the many poorly crafted hats that I had enjoyed in my younger days.
“I picked it for Grampy in heaven, because he liked baseball” he said with a proud smile. I gently leaned in, kissed his forehead and told him that my Dad would have loved the hat. I did this calmly and in full control of my emotions, however, on the inside, my heart was racing, the tears building as my lungs gasped for air and I was suddenly flooded with a swell of memories from my days with my father.
What my son doesn’t know is that, over 6 years later, I do the same thing. It seems that almost everything reminds me of my father in some way or another. Ultimately, it’s the reason I stopped playing fastball, because that’s the thing we shared more than anything else and every time I took the field, after his death, the emotions became too overwhelming.
There’s also my unreasonable love for anything Sherlock Holmes and the sudden instinct to purchase old Hardy Boys books whenever I spot them. There are many other situations I can think of that, good or bad, have me instinctively doing something with no rhyme or reason attached to them. I’m no head doctor, so I’m not about to try to figure them all out but I’m assuming its normal behavior for anyone who has lost someone so close to them.
I thought about how I was distancing myself from the things we shared together instead of embracing them. It’s not that I wanted to forget, it’s just that I don’t want to be constantly reminded of it, if that makes any sense. It’s hard, man. Life has definitely become easier but those last days certainly haven’t vanished from my memory. That said, I didn’t want to return to that anxiety ridden “Why me” place that I spent so much time in. I want to be the story of the guy who fought through adversity and came out stronger on the other side, not the guy who caved to the memories and hurt his own family in the process.
You may look at my son’s new hat and just see a poorly made hat from any department store in the world, but to me, it’s a symbol that I’m doing better now. It taught me that life can go on, even with the heart break, and that my father’s memory will live on in my children even though they never had the chance to actually meet him.
I dusted off my ball cleats last weekend in hopes of making a comeback next season; because I know my Dad would have liked that.