Closure

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Whether you realize it or not, people are who they are mostly because of what they’ve experienced.  We are molded into the person we are supposed to be based on the trials and tribulations that play out in our lives.  Everything teaches you something, and as much as you can get over a situation, or move past it – it all leaves an everlasting impression on you.  So what do you do when you come face to face with one of the main reasons you are how you are now?  What do you do when you look in the eyes of someone who absolutely broke you so many years ago?  Surprisingly I found out.

There’s someone in my family that I idolized and put on a pedestal.  She could do no wrong in my eyes.  I wanted everyone to know that I was related to her, that she influenced my decisions.  That someone decided to walk away from the family when I was just thirteen.  She broke me into pieces and they stayed in a pile for quite some time.

Ten years later, I found out just hours before a meeting that I would have to see her.  Aside from texting your mom and sister in sheer panic, what do you do?

I had always thought about what I would say and how I would feel if I ever ran into her.  Would I be happy? Would I be angry?  Would I be sad? Would I feel nothing? Everything?  Would I bring up how she wronged me?  Would I revert back to wanting to be just like her? It doesn’t matter how many times you go over things.  It doesn’t matter how many things you think of saying.  Nothing can ever truly prepare you for a meeting like that.

Ten years later and I have to sit across a table from her, seeing a reflection of whom I once wanted to mirror.  Ten years later she’s staring at someone who she doesn’t even know, who she never reached out to get to know.

There are people who say that maybe I was placed in this situation to gain back that relationship.  And to be honest, at first, I kind of thought that too.  But, it’s not easy to get over a past situation with as much depth as this one holds for me.

How did I feel?  The word awkward comes to mind.  Overwhelmed is up there on the list too.  Generalizations regarding the situation were mentioned, none of which I wanted to expand on at that moment.  She said things to me that I always wanted to hear, “I looked you up,” “I still care about you,” “I miss you.”  It’s funny, I used to think those words would glue together my broken pieces; and now as they were being said they were falling short.  Had the meeting not been planned by forces outside our control, would she have reached out?  It’s safe to assume that she wouldn’t, because then she would have done so years ago.

She left at a vital time in my life.  I was thirteen in the midst of being bullied and cyberbullied, dealing with anxiety, limited friends, and typical teenage fights with my family.  While yes all those things had an effect on me, it’s safe to say her leaving was the final blow.  When someone you look up to voluntarily walks out of your life, despite promises of always being there, you begin to question whether anyone will ever stay.  Your self worth subconsciously takes a beating.  After all, if someone that close to you thinks you’re easy enough to walk away from – you must be.  After she left, without even realizing, I became colder, more jaded, tougher, and the chip on my shoulder grew.  She broke me.

Once that first meeting ended, knowing that I’ll now probably be seeing a lot of her, I really couldn’t pinpoint how I was feeling.  My younger voice was still echoing in my head, hoping she would still think of me in the same light she used to, that she would still like me.  Then despite those feelings, I wanted to tell her how out of line she was for some of the things she said and did in the past.  Part of me wanted to cry at the complexity of what should be a simple encounter, part of me wanted to curse because it didn’t have to go this way, and part of me wanted to crawl into a hole.  But I knew, ultimately this is where I make the decision that I subconsciously put off for years – to fix it or to move on.

There comes a point when you no longer have any desire to have a relationship with someone, even if they’re family, simply because it’s been too long and too much has changed.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.  She has a family of her own now, and I have a life of my own.  I used to think one day it could all be fixed and those two lives could be meshed together but sadly, I know that no longer can happen.

She missed my last day of junior high, my first day of high school, my first dance recital at my new studio, my knee surgery that halted my dance career, my high school graduation, my grandfather passing away, my first day of college, my college graduation… the list goes on and on.  These aren’t just little daily happenings, they were life altering milestones.  And the thing is, I’m far from the person I used to be when she knew me.  I’m no longer that little naive thirteen year old girl who people can shatter.  I’m a woman with a mind of my own, a “do no harm but take no shit” attitude, a determination that can’t be deterred, a peace of mind no one can touch, and a soul that no one can break.

Ten years later, I realized this encounter was not to fix a relationship, but rather for me to gain closure.

I see now, I am just fine.

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Infinite

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Opening Day 2014!  I feel like I’ve been waiting so long for this.  Finally, with new additions and a new spirit, my boys in pinstripes are back!  Yes, along with the rest of MLB, but let’s be serious – the Yankees are the ones that matter most to me.

Opening Day signifies a lot for me.  Yes, it’s the return of my favorite sport.  Yes, I start to look a little normal with all my Yankee gear.  Yes, it’s an exciting time.  But, yes, it’s deeper than that.

For me, Opening Day is a direct representation of the bond I shared over baseball with my grandfather.  As a native Long Islander living in Florida, he wasn’t surrounded by the same hype.  But, every year on Opening Day, a call to or from my grandfather would start the day.  Back and forth banter about how we thought the season was going to play out, player predictions, and the closing conversation of my favorite player, Derek Jeter.

In March of 2011, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.  At first, I couldn’t get on the phone to talk to him, I was too distraught.  When I finally did get on the phone, it was Opening Day.  I remember tip toeing around the inevitable while somehow managing to smile through my tears as we talked our Opening Day talk.  Some things never change, despite outside forces, and for my grandfather and I, that something was Yankees’ baseball.

The end of June into July, my grandparents came up from Florida and stayed with us for a few weeks.  Naturally a trip to the baseball cathedral was on the schedule.  July 7, 2011, was my Poppie’s final baseball game.  Memories of that day will forever be etched in my brain.

We were on the first base side, right behind the legend seats (which my grandfather and I got to sit in two years prior for our birthday celebration – thanks Mom and Dad).  We had a Yankee attendant get us a wheelchair for my grandpa, and walk/wheel us to our section.  I remember the attendant wheeled my Poppie to the wheelchair section at the back of the seats, assuming that’s where he would stay.  My grandpa stood up, in his Lou Gehrig shirt, looked at the attendant, pointed down about eighteen rows and said, “There!  I’m sitting down there!”  And he did.

Once we were all seated, I noticed him getting a little emotional during batting practice.  Derek Jeter was only three hits away from 3,000 at this point, and so I ventured off to go buy the DJ3K bracelets.  They came in a package of two.  I put one on and gave the other to my Poppie to wear.  “We’re going to see him hit 3,000 today Poppie!”  He just smiled.

Derek Jeter’s first at bat, the entire stadium was on their feet, including my Poppie; not letting his weakness overcome his love for the game and being involved.  The wind up, the pitch… and Jeter gets a hit.  I started jumping up and down with a smile ear to ear, truly believing we were going to see the 3,000th hit.  I looked at my grandfather, “Poppie, it’s the power of our bracelets!” I laughed, and held up my hand for a high five.  My grandfather reciprocated with a fist pound instead.  I remember thinking, “Well how cool is he?”  (Jeter didn’t get 3,000 until the next game, but we were just close enough to history).

During the seventh inning stretch, as we all stood, my grandpa started crying as Kate Smith’s rendition of God Bless America echoed throughout the stadium.  I recall looking at him and crying because by the look on his face, I could see all his memories surrounding the game were being played out in his head.  I can still see the grin on his face though; a look of gratitude for the game, the team, the life he lived.

As I said, some things don’t change; but sometimes some things do.  My grandfather passed away at the end of August, just about a month and a half after that game.  As life was changing for my family and I, baseball was still a stable constant.  I would watch the games now, not just as a diehard fan, but as a way of feeling like my grandpa was still here.

Perhaps that’s why Jeter’s retirement at the end of this season hurts too.  He was one of the constants that didn’t change after my view on life was changing.  My team is changing, and my Poppie is not here to see it change with me.  Maybe, subconsciously I feel like if the team changes completely from when he was alive, that special bond will also change.

Opening Day however is a powerful reminder for me that as life changes, as teams change, as players retire; the love I have for this game is infinite because of the infinite bond it has allowed for my grandfather and I to have.

Happy Opening Day!

 

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Enjoy the game Poppie, I’m sure you’re sitting in the best seats, with great company.

Thanks for having the ladybug land on my car today, I know that was you.