Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Championship Afternoon

Anyone who follows the Atlanta Braves and knows me very well probably could have predicted that today's game would lead to another entry in my blog. The Braves clinched the National League East division title this afternoon for the first time in eight years. If you're not a baseball fan this doesn't mean a thing to you. But if you are a fan and particularly a Braves fan you know exactly what it means. As I wrote in my last entry our household was always big on sports, and we followed the Braves even before they had winning teams. Because Eddie played baseball all through high school and college it was his favorite sport. He watched every game he possibly could on television and went to games in Atlanta whenever he had the opportunity. He was the typical armchair manager always telling which pitch should be thrown, who should play where, whether the batter should take or swing, and when it was time to make a substitution.

I had seen his reactions when the Braves started having winning seasons during the 1990's after being a losing franchise for so many years. I knew how excited he would have been watching them clinch their division again today after eight years, and it made me sad that he wasn't here to see it. I've come to realize lately that any sadness I still feel about Eddie's death is because of what he's missing by not being here. He took away a great deal from Trey, his family, his friends, and me with his suicide, but he took away even more from himself. He deprived us of the life we had known, but we are adjusting and will go on with different lives. I do not feel sorry for myself, but I do feel sorry for what Eddie will never get to experience.

Because of these feelings it was an emotional afternoon for me. I was excited to see the Braves win but regretful that Eddie wasn't here to see it too. I knew if he had been he would have gotten on the phone with Trey and his dad immediately after the game to share the excitement of the championship with them. Luckily a very good friend was here to watch the end of the game and the subsequent celebration with me which was a huge help. To that person I would like to say thank you - I don't think you even knew what your being here meant.

I will watch the Braves throughout the playoffs cheering for them like any true fan. I want them to have a long successful run ending with a World Series championship. I know this will mean more emotional times for me, but that's okay because I will have other family members and friends to share the games and the excitement with.

"My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging." ~Hank Aaron

Sunday, September 1, 2013

It's Just a Game

As far back as I can remember sports has always been a part of my life. As a child I watched what few games there were on television with my father and grandfather. As I grew up I became a cheerleader, first for peewee and midget football, then high school football and basketball. In college I continued as a basketball cheerleader for two years. I began following baseball when I met Eddie and soon became an avid fan. I announced the home games and ran the scoreboard during Eddie's senior year at Columbus College and even followed the team to the College World Series in California while seven months pregnant. After our marriage Eddie and I followed both college and professional sports together, especially football and baseball. Our involvement in sports grew after Trey came along. He began playing ball at age five and continued throughout school first in little league baseball, football, and basketball, then with high school baseball and football.

Our favorite teams were (and still are) the Atlanta Braves, Georgia Bulldogs, and Atlanta Falcons. We followed and supported the Braves and Falcons long before they developed winning programs. The opening day for each of these sports and teams was always an exciting and much anticipated time in our home. During college football season our house was always a place to gather and watch the big games. There were times when it was a family get-together, times when it was Trey having his friends over, and times when it was a get-together with the neighbors. There was always plenty of food, drinks, laughter, yelling, cheering, and fun. Of course it was better when our team won, but we always had a great time regardless of the outcome.

Now when each of these seasons starts I am reminded of those times and how much I miss them. I haven't had a get-together at my house for a game since Eddie's death. At first I was afraid it would be too hard without him here. Even now four years later I can still picture him sitting in his recliner, yelling at the television, and even ocassionally throwing a newspaper or magazine at the screen when things didn't go well. We always had to turn the sound down on the television during Georgia games so we could watch the game but listen to Larry Munson. I can smell the hamburgers, steaks, ribs, and chicken that Eddie grilled because you couldn't watch a game without something cooked outside. I can hear the talking and laughing that filled the house and spilled out onto the carport and deck. I can still feel the excitement when our team won and our disappointment when they lost. These are happy pleasant memories that I will always cherish. Now because of those memories I'm no longer afraid to host a get-together. It's time to bring the laughter and fun back to my house and make new memories with new people.

My love for these sports has not changed since Eddie's death, but the importance I place on them has. They were and always will be a great source of entertainment, but winning the big game is no longer a life-altering occurance as I once thought. I know now that regardless of the outcome of any game my life will go on as before. I was reminded of that this weekend with the opening of yet another college football season. I joined a group of friends at a sports bar in town to watch the big game - Georgia vs Clemson. There was the expected cheering, eating, drinking, and fun, but the outcome wasn't what I had hoped for. It was a tight game, but my team lost in the end, and although I was disappointed I didn't take it too seriously. After I got home from watching the game I didn't dwell on the loss; I didn't lose any sleep over it; and I didn't stew about it the following day. Because it is after all only a game, and in the grand scheme of life its outcome has very little meaning.