For Love of the Game

I’ve never met anyone who loved the game of baseball more than you did. You loved it so much you that you would sit at the dining room table for hours playing APBA baseball, a board game I never could understand the allure of. It looked so unbelievably boring! But not to you. I can still see you sitting in your chair in the living room, eyes glued to the game on tv. On game nights, dinners were served in front of the television so you wouldn’t miss out on any of the action. And yet, you inexplicably decided to go to bed in the middle of the 2004 World Series! I later realized you were listening to it on the radio but I still remember running upstairs so excited to tell you that they’d finally broken the curse!

When we were little, I remember spending a few weekends outside in the side yard where you would teach Sean and me everything you knew about baseball. Growing up in our house, it didn’t matter that I was a girl – I had to learn how to play baseball. We learned how to play every position at first, until you decided what we were best at – Sean a catcher and shortstop (and everywhere else!) and me a pitcher and shortstop. You bought me this baseball, the most colorful ball I’d ever seen. It had all the different pitching grips stenciled on. Curveball, change-up, fastball, I learned to throw them all – some admittedly better than others. I’m still disappointed you wouldn’t teach me how to throw a spitball like Amanda Whurlitzer in The Bad News Bears though!

You always seemed so proud that your daughter was the only girl in little league for those first few years. The boys on the other teams would always tease me, insisting that girls couldn’t play baseball. You told me they’d stop laughing at me once I’d struck them out. And you were right! I loved everything about baseball. Most of all though, I loved sharing it with you. We may have disagreed about a lot of things but baseball was never one of them.

I stopped playing baseball after little league. The high school told me I wouldn’t be able to play with the boys since “softball was the same and I could play with the girls.” Anyone who has ever played baseball knows the two aren’t the same but it didn’t seem worth the fight. I gave softball a try for two years, mainly to be with my friends, but I never loved it so I quit playing. Instead I focused on soccer, another sport you loved, although not quite as passionately.

I still love baseball, just as much as I did back then. But in all the years since you’ve been gone, I haven’t been able to make it through watching more than one inning before the pain of missing you becomes too much. So I stopped watching altogether. But I’m making an exception this year. On April 12th, exactly 10 years since you left us, the Red Sox and the Yankees are playing at Fenway Park. You spent my childhood telling me stories about all the greatest players from those teams – Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Dom & Joe DiMaggio, etc. This seems like a good way to celebrate you. I know you’ll be watching it, too. See what you can do about getting the Sox a win, huh?

I love you, Daddy. I miss you every single day. You are my sunshine, forever and always.

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Camp Erin Reunion 2017!

If there is one thing you need to know about me, it’s that I’m all about fall – the foliage, hiking trips, being wrapped in a blanket watching the stars at night, sipping hot cocoa (no pumpkin spice, thank you very much!), and just generally enjoying the cooler weather.  If I could live in a place where it was fall all year round, I would be beyond happy!

This past Sunday I got to spend what felt like the first day of fall catching up with some of my favorite people, my fellow volunteers at Camp Erin.  Let me start by saying, these people are absolutely amazing and I don’t even feel right putting myself in the same category with them.  I have never met a group of people who are so dedicated, loving, and welcoming!  I’d try to tell you more about them all but, A) there are not enough words to explain how incredible they are, and B) my writing would in no way do them justice.  Just trust me when I say, you’d be hard pressed to find a better group of people anywhere!

So what is Camp Erin?  Glad you asked!  Camp Erin is a free weekend overnight camp for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of someone close to them in their lifetime.  The weekend is filled with typical camp activities – swimming, games, arts/crafts, tae-kwon do – as well as grief education and emotional support provide by trained professionals and volunteers.

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I look forward to camp each year.  Whenever I tell people I’m going to spend a weekend at a grief camp, they always have the same reaction – that sounds depressing; isn’t that really sad?  No!!  Sure, there are moments of sadness, and obviously the circumstances that led each of these children to camp are not happy ones, but these have been some of my favorite summer weekends over the past 3 years.  As I mentioned above, I’ve been blessed to meet some incredible people, both the adults and the campers, and always leave feeling hopeful and in awe of how resilient these kids truly are.

One of my favorite things about camp is watching the kids form these incredible bonds with one another.  It’s truly an amazing thing to see – a cabin full of kids, who up until moments ago were complete strangers, become near best friends in a matter of minutes. It’s moments like those that I love to capture.

Admittedly, camp this year was not without its struggles for me personally.  In late November, one of my childhood best friends passed away after a hard fought battle with cancer.  Then, a little over a month later, my other childhood best friend died by suicide.  To say I was (and still am) heartbroken would be an understatement.  Losing those two people shattered my heart into a thousand pieces.  I’m still trying to put those pieces back together, knowing things will never be the same.  There were moments at camp where I had to step away.  Watching those children, remembering what it was like with my friends when I was their age, made me miss my friends that much more.  And while I experienced those moments of sadness and grief, I also know that being at camp helped.  One of the things they teach the kids is that none of them are alone in their grief.  There’s always someone willing to lend an ear or a shoulder to cry on.  I’ve never been good at openly expressing my thoughts and feelings so this is always a struggle for me.  But I am incredibly thankful to that person at camp who listened, even if I couldn’t say much, and took the time to talk with me.

If you’re interested in learning more about Camp Erin, you can visit http://www.camperinboston.org.

 

Nora Everly’s 1st Birthday!

How did this little girl get to be 1 already?!?  I swear I just did her 1 month photos yesterday!  This shoot was so much fun….and messy!  Big brother Patrick was quite the helper, testing out the cake (maybe a little too much LOL) and showing his baby sister how delicious it was!  He also wants a cake smash for his next birthday, which I’m totally on board with!  And while Nora’s not quite sold on the idea of getting messy, she did have a lot of fun getting her first taste of cake – she likes it!  Seriously though, getting a 1 year old who can walk to stay in front of the backdrop is not the easiest thing in the world!  But it definitely makes for super cute photos 🙂

Thank you so much, Katy, for letting me capture this milestone for you guys!!  Happy birthday, Nora!!