It’s been a tough few innings. You’re bruised, sweating, and everything hurts. Your batting is low, your errors are high, and your self-worth is in the tank. But you love the game. Suddenly, finally, everything starts to click. It’s all looking up. You can see the ball clearly as it zips toward you. That satisfying crack tells you there are easily two bases to round as you drop the bat. Every cheer from the team jolts you with a little more energy, a little more zest. The points are adding up on your side at long last, and you realize you could just win the whole thing. But then the heavens open up. Game over.
She was 42.
She wasn’t physically ill, she wasn’t the victim of a violent crime or tragic accident, and she didn’t venture into the wrong place at the wrong time during one of the all-too-frequent shootings happening across our country right now. We still don’t know, won’t know for a few months exactly, what happened that caused my little sister to die in her sleep a few months ago. For now, all that we know is that she’s just gone.
She was a physical and emotional powerhouse, a scholarship athlete with a poet’s heart who could take over every room with her golden hair, tall beauty and even taller personality. My brother was a high school athlete, but could never pretend to crack the layer of awe that Bella left in her stead when she went to college on a full ride as a Division 1 catcher. She was larger than life, as cliché as that term is.
It’s exactly that sentiment that leaves me feeling so thunderstruck now. Regardless of what she dreamed, how she planned, her ride on this particular spin of the Earth is over. There is no more for her. No walks with her son, no beach, none of her beloved black olives. She won’t feel the warmth or smell the aroma of a hot cup of coffee, she can’t kiss her love, or be kissed in return. Does she know it? Is she somewhere outside of this life watching the events of her too-short time in rerun, observing us as we give obervance to her? Is she . . . she?
I’m not using this post as a means to pick up a giant flag to wave for living deliberately or seizing the day or hugging your loved ones, because shame on us if we’re all not already heeding those messages. They’ve been selflessly brought to us by so many others, sharing wisdom that has come to them as they’ve looked mortality in the face. We should all be listening to those words. My message, via Bella, is more military, and as direct as she was.
Get on with it. Drop the pretense, push the chip off your shoulder and turn off the TV. Stop hating, resenting, ignoring–all those emotions do is sicken the mind and body. Realistically, if you drop dead tomorrow, what would you regret? Change those things now.
And love. For me, as I process my way through this loss, as I think of where Bella is or may be, and what she gave to the world, it’s love. That’s all there is, really. Her love for her son, her family, and her friends, her love for the beach and those black olives, and yes, her love for the sport of softball all shine through the tidal wave of sadness we are all still wading across. The more we love, the more joy we create in this world, and the closer we get to wherever she is now. I truly believe that.
Bella, you knocked it out of the park. Thank you and Godspeed.