Saturday, March 04, 2006

The world in which we live....

No one really understands it when I try to explain to them how grateful I am for the place I find myself now. It usually draws laments about how much I must miss baseball. I went through that for close to five years, but I got over it. And it was lonely. I had to realize that being part of that had at one time been the only thing that mattered and had indeed meant too much. More personal loss followed and more loneliness, too. But faith prevailed somehow, a miracle followed that most of us somehow always seem to find. Through an inexplicable maze of events and choices, both good and bad, I find myself now in a place that brings true joy. And joy that means more than anything I ever experienced during the blessed time I spent within the great game.

My wise late father told me I'd one day need that degree in teaching I received from Florida State. Only a few years away from achieving my own big league dream and firmly entrenched with the Mets as their AAA Tidewater trainer I smiled at Dad's words yet scoffed inside. I was where I was going to be and always would be.

If you ever want to see God smile, make plans.

It would all end after the 1991 season and I puttered around lost and lonely. Working in PT clinics and treating patients provided some feelings of self-worth for a few years. But the endless drama of the health care industry and its politics and power plays disillusioned me. A teaching job fell in my lap in the late 1990's at the perfect time. And the old feeling is here again.

I can't imagine doing anything else.

When I'm inside the school when kids are around I truly feely alive. Maybe like I never have before. And there's more to what I do then teaching kids about the cell theory or the phases of mitosis. And there's more to coaching than just teaching a teenage girl to get lift on a soccer ball or how the play a flat four defense. What that "more" means is hard to explain. Maybe it comes to light during tragedy.

I returned a little after nine last night after spending the evening with friends. I ate, answered some e-mial, and flipped channels before going to bed. As I was about to turn off my light there was a knock at my door. Two of the young women who play soccer for me were there and they brought news that they'd lost another teammate.

Brittany had joined us after our season started after leaving her Katrina damaged Morgan City, Louisiana home. Her sister and brother-in-law were here, so it was a natural place for her to go. Soccer was important to her and the girls embraced her. It was easy to. She was warm, genuine and funny. Brittany made friends easily and became popular around school. She was in my Biology class as well, so I got to know her well. I have a tendency to sit my players near my desk. She bubbled, laughed and found ways to like people.

Brittany missed her mom though, and Mom missed her, too. They looked so much like each other. Like sisters almost. I suppose it was easy to understand why on one weekend visit they just decided to scoop up everything and take Brittany back to Morgan City. Lots of hugs, and tears and goodbyes on the Monday. Promisses to stay in touch were kept. Cell phones , text messaging and e-mail make the world simpler this way. Especially for teenagers.

An automobile accident took Brittany yesterday. And I know the news immediately brought back the memory for my girls the loss in August of 2004 when another of their teammates was taken in a still unthinkable murder-suicide. Somehow we all experience death as a young person and the presence of adults to sheppard the way marks a passage of sorts.

Now I am one of those adults.

The outward emotions are experienced and measured. But the inner hurt remains. I slept little last night and found myself yelling out the word, "No!" And to no one.

Some of the girls and a mother have loaded up and are headed to Louisiana for the service this afternoon. I'm going to try and take some time off from school to go and see Brittany's mom and dad next week. I sent a flower arrangement from the team and spoke with our principal about a memorial at the school. These are important and, well, its the example that should be made.

We all find our own way somehow in the world in which we live. And I always find myself pondering what days like this mean. For me, its now not about loss. Its about what it feels like to love.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger Mets Guy in Michigan said...

What a tragedy. Hang in there.

And God bless you for working with young people. You are shaping lives and creating lessons and memories that will last them a lfetime.

At 11:43 PM, Blogger Metstradamus said...

Ditto on both counts. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Shawn said...

Very eloquent, Bob. I'm sorry for your loss.

At 12:52 PM, Anonymous G-Fafif said...

Our thoughts are with you, your team and your students.


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