Blairs and baseball used to go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Most of our year was spent at the ball field. Spring meant the beginning of training. Bats whooshing in the air to loosen young muscles. The soft thud of a ball hitting glove, silent toss returned, a second thud. Moments that felt like hours practicing the swing - miss...miss...and an occasional PING when ball met bat. Summers under the hot sun, no shade on metal bleachers, but no better place to spend an afternoon. The scent of hot dogs and popcorn mingled with dirt and leather. The adrenaline of a close game, the way a whack of the bat could bring you to your feet cheering. A short break before the new school year and then starting all over again with the coming of fall. Only pretzels and cold RCs were replaced with hot chocolate and extra blankets on chilly evenings.
But that all changed a few years ago. After we lost Austin, baseball just wasn't the same. It was too difficult being on a field, remembering Austin's love of the game. We waited the next spring, to see how Noah would respond. Almost to our relief, he let us know he couldn't play. Baseball and the Blairs would have to take a break. And even though a part of me knew it would be too hard, I worried we'd never step onto a field again. I wondered what Austin would think, seeing us unable to do something we'd all loved to share as a family.
Then last year, the week of Austin's birthday, Tim won a set of tickets to nearby game. I held my breath, wondering how we'd do. Being back on the bleachers, surrounded by so many memories of him, certainly flooded our hearts. Tears softly fell. Yet we enjoyed the game. As he always does, Austin gave us so many signs that night he was there.
Now, another step forward. Noah's decided to play again. Three years later and he's ready to take to the field. This morning he and his dad went through our supply, Noah wanting to use Austin's bat and bag. We went shopping for a new helmet and cleats. He was excited and even though it still tugs at our hearts, and probably always will, we all are.