I took the kids to watch one of Alex’s games today. The sky was polka dotted with white and grey clouds. The air was crisp enough to throw a scarf on. A perfect afternoon for a game – or two. I sat in the same set of bleachers on a strangely similar day almost three years ago, October 5, 2008. But on that day I sat with my Dad. Dad drove down to stay with me for the weekend while Justin was in San Francisco at a wedding. We had a weekend full of baseball just like we do this weekend. I snapped this picture that is still my dad’s profile picture on his posthumous Facebook page.
Sitting with a ghost made me realize that almost a year later my heart still aches and feels like the inside of a scooped out pumpkin – hollow. Dad’s mementos are scattered through my everyday teasing me to remember him quickly enough to think he’s still around. Then taunting and reminding me that he isn’t. But lately it’s the what ifs that haunt me. What if we hadn’t allowed hospice to get involved? Did we force a decision that Dad was not ready or capable of making? Yes, they provide comfort and care but they also rob people of valuable minutes on this real live earth by speeding up the inevitable dying process. Dad sped that process up enough on his own. Determining the right time to begin the final process is the hard part and there are always lingering doubts or hopes that one more thing may change the outcome of the ball game. But maybe I wouldn’t have or couldn’t have taken advantage of the extra moments anyway. Hindsight makes me believe I would have. Hindsight also has a selective memory.
If I go back to the bleachers for the games tomorrow, I’ll hear my dad’s reserved cheers. I’ll hear him ribbing Justin about the oh so sad outcome of the Red Sox season. (I know he was smiling on Wednesday night because he always told Justin to wait till September as Justin would gloat about an early Red Sox win.) I’ll quiet my what ifs and remember every decision was made with love and as much knowledge as I had at the moment.