I didn’t think he should be playing ball. Not with the big rod and dozens of screws in his pelvis. But he hasn’t listened to me for years, particularly about sports, and he didn’t this time. My son who was so badly injured in a car crash last summer is playing third base for his softball team. He is down somewhat in the batting order though.
A few nights ago, I went on outreach with the Street Angels. There were six of us in a small bus outfitted with supplies and food; the bus follows a 20-stop route and people who are homeless either come to the bus or some of us get off and go looking for them. Let me say this – people living under bridges isn’t a myth.
We hand out bag lunches and whatever else people need. Flashlights, underwear, razors, shoes, jeans, t-shirts, tents, and batteries. A woman needed help making her annual pilgrimage to her mother’s grave on the other side of town – so she got a few bus tickets. People are modest and specific in their requests, not wanting to take more things than they can carry but also conscious that there are other people at the next stop who might need things.
As he often does, my son sent me a play by play of his play in that night’s softball game. He is 32 but a kid at heart when it comes to softball and so he likes regaling me with the details. He played two games, helping out a team that needed a player. I remember his surgeon telling me his softball life would be hard with a lot of pain. Doctors have told me things before that were scary but turned out not to be totally true. I guess that’s their job.
Anyway, my son’s long play by play ended with him hitting a grand slam home run and sliding into home plate at the end of the second game. I finished reading that just as the Street Angels bus pulled up to another stop.
There was a group of young men but one who stood out. It was Billy. The same Billy who, with his friends, pulled Mr. Softball out of his burning car last July. Billy came on the bus and we hugged. He asked how my family was. He got a bag lunch and socks, chatted a little and then got off the bus to wait while his friends got what they needed. I sat back down but then decided there was one more thing I needed to say to Billy so I got off the bus and went to stand next to him under the streetlamp.
“Billy, my son is playing ball. He’s okay enough to play ball.” I wanted him to know that, it seemed to be an important thing another young guy would really understand, so I told him and he smiled a big smile and then turned and walked down the street with his friends. Together they looked like they’d just come from a basketball game or a really great movie, my son could have been walking and joking with them, the line between all of them, especially he and Billy, so thin, nearly invisible.