I stared up at the ball in disbelief. It was actually headed our way. My 10-year-old son and I sprang to our feet as nearly every eye in Fenway Park looked in our direction. This was the moment we were here for.
I delight in the time I’ve spent with my son. There are gaps in these memories, however, because I have not always been home. Choosing a career in the Navy has been challenging. I often have felt guilty when my service kept me from my family. After returning from duty in Afghanistan when my son was only 8, I had been stunned by how grown up he sounded. He spoke differently than when I had left the year before. I had missed part of watching him grow up.
We had talked about going to Fenway Park for weeks. My son had never been to a Major League Baseball stadium and, like most boys, he hoped he’d catch a ball from our seats. I smiled and remembered having the same dream as a boy. I always brought my glove to Fenway, where every crack of the bat ignited the spark of hope that I might catch a baseball for a souvenir. As with most people who shared that dream, it never happened.
Back in the stands nearly 30 years since my last visit, that spark caught fire again as Jacoby Ellsbury’s foul ball rose high into the Boston night and then made its way toward us. I wanted to catch that baseball. I wanted to give it to my son. I wanted him to have that great souvenir from our evening together. I planted my feet in a defensive stance as I prepared to lunge for it. The other hopeful fans pressed in around us. Everyone thought he had a shot, but it was coming right at me.
Springing up and extending my arms as far as they would go, I felt a bump from behind just as the baseball cruised past my fingertips. The ensuing roar from our section as I fell forward told me someone had made the catch. Wishing it had been me, I turned to apologize to my son for coming up short.
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