Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coping with Tragedy


"Play ball!"

Those words struck me yesterday as my quarterfinal playoff game started. Those were the words Joe Fontana used prior to the start of every game I'd played since joining Club Sport back in the late nineties.

Yesterday was a difficult day. For those of us who face clinical depression and anxiety, these days happen far too many times to count. Yesterday though I believe was a day that I had a right to be sad. First off, my friend Joe Fontana, an umpire at Club Sport who I'd known for nearly 2 decades, passed away earlier in the week due to a heart attack. Joe volunteered for several years at Wish for Wendy and was always one of the last people to leave the event. I didn't know Joe off the field. I'd seen him out a few times but I knew him usually a few feet behind me calling strikes or a few feet behind me when I was at second base. The guy was sarcastic. That's for sure. He reminded me of my Uncle Bobby because even as sarcastic as he got, you still cared about him and you cared about what he said. The irony was that Joe had asked about my health the last few months because I was coughing more and a lot skinnier. Joe will certainly be missed by all of us that played our games at the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Club. In fact, we had a 30 second moment of silence before our playoff game last night to remember him and to pray for his family. How strange that he died the same year that Dennis Farina died. Farina played the character Joe Fontana on Law & Order for years.

Joe Fontana - a huge Pittsburgh fan - a huge loss to the softball community


Yesterday would have been Wendy's 43rd birthday. Though I never met her, I miss her terribly. I know that's probably difficult for most of you to understand. I would trade every $1 of the $1.9 million we raised to have her back on this earth and understand what it's like to have an older sister. While part of me is very sad that she is not here, part of me takes pride in the fact that we have raised a lot of money in her memory to avenge the disease that took her from us more than four decades ago. People always think of me as the first born in my family. The truth is that I was not. I will always be the oldest brother and the oldest cousin but I will never take the title "first born." That was Wendy's title and will always be hers.

Our family's first born

The Sneiderman Case

On Monday, as many of you know, we found out that Andrea Sneiderman's bond request was denied. We were in the courtroom last Thursday and were pretty convinced that she was getting out on bond after listening to Andrea's lawyer Brian Steel. Still it wasn't to be. Hopefully by spring, Andrea will be out on parole. We'll just have to see. I'm not going to go into all of my feelings on this case. I've done so in the past and received lots of hate mail for it. With all of my emotional issues, I don't feel like going further into it would benefit me or anyone else. I will say that me and my family continue to support her and hope that she will be reunited with her family in the near future.

My Issues

A lot of my anxiety and depression surprisingly stem from my days in high school and college. I worried too much about fitting in, having cystic fibrosis and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I believe those were the days that I actually had my mid-life crisis because I didn't expect to see 30 much less 40. Some days I wake up and I don't know how I got here. I didn't expect to have a wife. I never dreamt that I'd have children. I didn't see myself having a 40th birthday party. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful that I have all of these things. I'm just surprised that all of these dreams came true. Perhaps I mourn my younger days too often. The truth is that I've learned to use these difficult memories as reasons to try and have fun now...through playing with my children, going out on the town with Andrea or just something as simple as playing softball.

The Silver Lining

The day wasn't all bad yesterday. Avery heard what happened with regards to Joe and wrote me the sweetest note when I got home last night. She's a really caring kid and I couldn't believe she did that without Andrea prompting her to do so.

She made my day.

Taking the Good from the Bad

"Life isn't about breathing. Anyone can do that. Life is about living...and sadly that's a skill that many of us fail to grasp."

That's something I coined several years ago but sometimes I forget to live by those words.

As I prepare for my final softball game of the year tonight (hopefully 2 softball games as a win in our first game means we play for the title a few hours later), I question why some people live long and other people's lives are cut short. Why am I here? Why are people like Joe and Rusty gone? Is there something I'm missing?

I guess the point isn't who is here and who isn't because we all have to go someday. The point is to enjoy every moment with the people we care about most because the memories last a lot longer than any of us will. The point isn't that we were unfortunate to lose this individual. The point was how fortunate each of us was to get to know this person and what a difference he or she made in this world. I guess it's a glass half-empty, half-full sort of thing.

Now as Joe would say with those 2 infamous words that mean as much off the softball field as they do on it..."Play ball!"

And so I will...for the rest of my life.


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