There are some nights when I open my computer up to write, and the words pour out of my fingers as if they are coming from another place. And then there are other nights when I stare at the screen and think, “remember when I used to write about flashing my boobs at a nail salon?”
Man, I miss that. Well, not the flashing part.
I sit down many nights intending to tell a funny story. There are so many I haven’t told. Then, suddenly, I’ll realize what day it is. Today marks eight weeks since I last kissed my little girl. I feel like I should write something serious and profound.
But honestly, I’m tired of serious. And as much as I find comfort in all of the comments and emails I get from all of you, I want a day where I don’t hear “I’m sorry.” And today is the day for that.
As some of you know, I used to work for the professional baseball team that is based in Los Angeles (the one that is ACTUALLY in LA, not the one in Anaheim). When the team was in town, I worked late nights and weekends. And, of course it sucked to have to work 12 hour days when I had my family at home, but I liked my job and it came with cool perks.
My coworkers hated working on the weekends, but I actually didn’t mind. On the weekends, employees brought their family members to the games. I always brought Maddie. Without fail, she’d fall asleep on the way to the stadium, so I’d leave her in her car seat and carry her to my office on the club level. I would then carefully tuck her carrier under my desk, where she would remain undetected until she woke up.
When she was younger, she usually slept through the entire game. But as she grew older, she’d wake up, and staying in her carrier was NOT an option. She wanted out, she wanted to explore! Sometimes she’d crawl around on the floor of my office, or she’d sit on my lap while I made phone calls. Often, she’d find herself in the arms of one of my coworkers. They’d take her all around the stadium, introducing her to new people and showing her things from a different perspective. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of her laughing at a new friend, or clapping with the crowd after a home run, and I’d think, “I am so lucky I have such a happy, friendly baby.”
One Saturday at the end of last season, Maddie was sleeping under my desk like she usually did before the game started. A large group of people walked by, including the legendary Tommy Lasorda. Tommy and Maddie had a special relationship. He visited her in the NICU, so he truly understood how far she’d come. He loved to hold her and tell everyone nearby, “When I first met her she was no bigger than my hand!” It always awed me that one of my childhood heroes knew who I was, so the fact that he knew and cared about my daughter made me shake my head in disbelief. But he really DID love Maddie. Just like everyone.
So it was no surprise when he stopped in front of me that night and boomed,
“HEATHER! Where is that beautiful baby?!”
“She’s actually taking a little nap right here next to me, Tommy.”
He came around to my side of the desk.
“MADELINE! There you are!”
Maddie’s eyes popped open. She looked at Tommy, looked at me….looked at Tommy…and then SHRIEKED louder than I had EVER heard her. Everyone went silent. I was mortified.
Tommy just laughed and said, “Sorry I woke you sweetheart! I’ll see you soon!” and then he gave her a kiss and walked away.
Unfortunately, that was the last time he saw her. Tommy has been in touch and he is so sad about Maddie. I never got a picture of them together. I always thought, “eh, I’ll get it next time.”