For about seven years I sponsored a couple of men's hardball teams. When I first got involved, I thought the situation would merely be transactional. They would get a sponsor. I would get the tax deduction and the free publicity.
I am not sure when it happened, but I fell in love. First, I started showing up to home games, then the away games. Eventually, my kid brother played on the team. He didn't get a spot because of me, he was that good.
Then I found myself travelling around the country with this gang of ballplayers. Our passion for the sport brought us and kept us together.
After three national championships and four local championships I retired. But the love for my guys remained. When my schedule permitted I would find my way to a few games. i was always showered with love.
This morning, I received a call from a dear friend who served up several winning seasons. I could tell by his voice, things were not good. The last time I heard this tone, my third baseman's mother died after a tough illness. That was about five months ago. Funny it seemed like less time has passed.
Hey Lady, he stammered, LF killed himself this weekend. As he spoke in disbelief the magnitude of the situation was seeping in. LF, his position not his initials, has been struggling with depression, drugs and alcohol for years.
His girlfriend finally had the shits of it and exercised tough love. He was clean for 12 days. No one is sure what prompted his suicide. Clearly he was in despair.
What is truly sad, men are not encouraged to feel or deal with their pain. It starts in little league. If a kid gets hit by a stray pitch, his coaches and parents yell "Don't rub it."
If they get hurt on the field they are not permitted to cry. "Don't be a pussy." Only girls cry. This is beat into their heads by this faceless dictatorial body called "society." I would love to meet this people, and let them know I don't like their rules.
Boys learn at an early age to bury their feelings. Or numb their feelings through drugs or alcohol. Sometimes their hurts or fears bubble to surface in the form of anger or rage.
There is collateral damage associated with these fucked up societal rules.
There is a cathartic release tears provide that is socially acceptable for me to experience. When LF is laid to rest this week, I know there will be grown men in tears. Mine have not stopped. Being a girl, it's ok and that is not quite fair.
I hope you find peace on the other side my friend.