I’m trying to be all healthy and active and whatnot

I Read A Lot of Internets

for what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?*

* Tip o’ the hat to Khalil Gibran, whose words have always felt just right.

The baby started playing baseball five years ago, when he was but a wee thing.

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BRB, weeping.

As luck would have it, he’s had the same coach, Coach Eric, every year, an eternally patient man who has helped to foster a bunch of gangly babies, including his own son, into a team of ballplayers. Always by Coach Eric’s side was his wife, Lisa. The two of them basically kept the entire Little League program in our neighborhood running, organizing teams, ordering tshirts, running the concession stand.

Lisa had always been a sweetheart and she joked easily with the baby. I can remember last year when we showed up to pick up his uniform shirt and there were only two left in his size. She said to him, “Okay do you want number 10? Or 11? Or 10? Or 11? Or maybe 10?” The baby and I both giggled before grabbing 10. (Or maybe it was 11.)

This past season, I was on one of my dreaded days of concession stand duty. “Dreaded” because it always comes at the end of a very long day and because it requires me to do arithmetic on my feet, which is always embarrassing for everyone present. I happened to be working with Lisa and though I was usually uncomfortable interacting with the other parents (for admittedly dumb, self-imposed reasons), Lisa made me feel at ease. We chatted about rats and ridding our house of them and schools and kids and such. I liked her, I decided. She was a truly good person.

Lisa passed away on Monday. She had a stroke in late July and had been in a coma ever since. She was 39.

A stroke.

39.

Hearing the news affected me much harder than I would have expected. I couldn’t stop thinking about her older son, who is the baby’s age, and her younger son who is about 5 or 6. I couldn’t stop thinking about Coach Eric. And I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it must have upset her somewhere in her fading heart to know that she had to leave them.

The baby, the mother-in-law (who knew Coach Eric from before), and I went to the funeral home last night to pay our respects. Coach and the boys were holding up remarkably well and after extending my sympathies to them I stepped over to the picture display. Lisa beamed from some of the best moments of her life. Dressed up for her prom. With Eric at their wedding. Dancing with her dad at the reception. Holding a newborn son. Meeting Hines Ward. (This is Pittsburgh, remember. Those kinds of events are a big deal.) I started to lose it. I couldn’t imagine not being with the baby and the husband from this point forward. I couldn’t imagine being this age and proceeding through the rest of my life without my spouse. I couldn’t imagine working so hard to find the people that I love most in the world and making them mine, only to have that horribly changed by fate.

I know people do it all the time but I just don’t know how. I’m sure they don’t either until they find themselves doing it.

5 comments to for what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?*

  • There’s no part of that story that isn’t completely heartbreaking. How awful.

  • rachelraven

    I see stuff like this all the time at work. That being said, some things impact me more than others. Like the recent 22 year old patient I’d had who died. Watching her mother hold her daughter’s dying body and lament the loss of all of the hopes and dreams she had had for her made me want to tear my heart out and jab things into my brain.

    My heart hurts for this man and his sons.

  • Alaina, RDH

    So so sad. My friend died last month from a blood clot after a broken leg from a car accident. She has a little three year old, and my heart breaks for her. With how hard I’m taking Kim’s death, I can only imagine how your coach and his family are taking Lisa’s. It’s just awful! So many thoughts for your friends…I don’t know how people get through it either.

  • Oh, I’m so sorry. For your son, for Coach Eric, for you. Nothing I say can help that but just know that I’m sending you good vibes from afar.

  • Gaby

    Tragic and heartbreaking. And this line, “And I couldn’t stop thinking about how much it must have upset her somewhere in her fading heart to know that she had to leave them.” That broke my heart even more. My deepest sympathies to everyone who knew and loved Lisa.

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