Some call them shooting stars. Science calls it a meteor shower. But, I know better...
Easton Scott Zanger, named for his parents' favorite pastime, had several limitations in his life. He eventually worked his way back to being able to crawl, but he never learned to stand on his own, let alone walk. However, one thing that our son could and would do willingly is hit a ball off of a tee. He steadied himself by holding onto his Daddy's hand, and gripped the bat with the other. He'd pull it back as far as he could and knock the ball off the tee with a little squeal.
It began to be painfully obvious that Easton would never hit a ball on his own. It's one of those things you imagine your child doing when you're carrying them during pregnancy. It's also one of the things that many parents have to give up on early in their child's life. Ironic, isn't it, that a child named for a bat couldn't even lift one on his own? Until now.
Tonight we spent some time at my parents' land. It's as close to heaven as one can get. We feel closer to him there. The kids call out his name and wait for neighboring cows to answer back, because cows were The Beast's favorite animal (and the only sound he would make). We'll be there often over the next few weeks, months, years. This time was especially wonderful because one of my "sisters" and I laid a blanket out on the grass and just watched the stars together. Today happens to be her father's birthday. He's been gone for ten years now. And while we watched shooting star after shooting star dart through the sky, I asked her if she thought Easton had met her Dad. She said, "Yes, that's them playing baseball up there."
She was RIGHT!! I hadn't even thought about it that way. Fastballs all over the galaxy. And MY son was up there taking his first swings. Standing. Alone. Learning what it means to dig in, and take a practice cut. Pulling his cap a little lower over his eyes to shield them from the sun. Hearing the sound of the fastball as it whizzes by. Noticing that familiar "thwack", smelling the leather, and tasting the gritty dust in his teeth as the ball hits the catcher's mitt. He winds up again, and just as he saw when he was here, another curveball comes his way. But this time, he's ready. Remembering what his Daddy had shown him. Bracing himself for the hit. And when it happens, it grabs the sweet spot. We know what that hit feels like. The sweet vibration of the bat, the beautiful sound of a seemingly effortless base hit. He rounds first, feeling like he's flying (and maybe he is), he digs his spikes into the dirt and flops down at second, wrapping his arms around the bag. His first double.
My baby's first ballgame, and I had a front row seat. Let me know when you play again, Son. I'll be the one down front, waiting for that first heavenly homerun.