As you might imagine, taking Luke to Fenway Park was something that Joe talked about often, and couldn't wait to do. He hadn't done it yet because he wanted to wait until Luke really liked and appreciated the Red Sox, and that happened last summer in large part due to his cousin Jesse. This would definitely have been the year that my husband took our son to see the Red Sox.
Because I knew it was important to Joe, I wanted to take Luke in a way that Joe would be proud of. As I have said before on this blog, Joe's brother Jeff has visited the kids at least every weekend since last summer. Jeff and Luke have spent a lot of time playing baseball and making up their own way of playing inside even during the winter. Derek was Joe's best friend outside his own family and he also plays ball with Luke at our house and remains a very special friend to me and Luke and Alyssa. I knew that taking those two people in his absence would make Joe happy.
I had been really excited for the game myself, but the night before I started to get a little worried that I might lose it during the National Anthem or at some other point during the day. Joe and Luke always sang the National Anthem together ever since Luke learned how to talk....since it played before any sporting event that they watched on TV. The night before the game I went outside onto my back deck where Joe and I went lots of times when it was warm in the summer. I cried and said I was sorry to Joe a hundred times. I feel so sorry for him that he was not the one doing this, that he was not taking Luke to Fenway park.
In my grief group they talked about it being possible to experience great joy and great sadness at the same time. This was an example of that for me. To see Joe's brother and his best friend hold hands with my son and walk him through Yawkey Way for the first time and into the ball park I felt both emotions....deep joy at what wonderful people these two men are and how lucky I am to have them care so much about Luke, and deep sadness to think that Joe would have given anything to be the one holding his hand.
All in all it really was a great day. I focused on the fact that this is what it is, and it IS GREAT that Joe had people who loved him so much that they felt honored to take his son to his first Red Sox game....that they did it up for him, keeping him in mind, with no sadness, but lots of fun, just the way he would have wanted it.
If you're reading, thanks Jeff and Derek. You guys are the best.