Sunday night I received an email from a friend. His mother passed away that weekend. I wrote him this note:
"I'm very sorry Steve. I haven't lost a parent yet, so I can't really understand what you're going through. But I imagine it must be very difficult. Please let me know if you need anything."
The following morning my phone rang. It was my mother. I was busy and didn't answer. She called back a few more times. Finally I picked up. A police officer was on the line instead.
"I am sorry to inform you that your mother passed away. She was discovered today in her apartment."
The unexpected death of a parent brings a sudden and unrelenting pain. A quote has been haunting me-
If you had one phone call to make, who would you call and what would you say? Why aren't you making that call?
I wish I had remembered that quote last week.
Monday was a long, raw day. I was feeling alone and exhausted. I came home in the evening, and went directly to my studio to hide out. My 5-year-old son sauntered in, right before his bedtime.
"Throw me some pitches Dad."
"I'm a little worn out tonight. I'm pretty sad."
"My mommy died today."
"I don't know yet."
"Come on, just a few pitches."
We headed outside. Before he even picked up his bat, he had a better idea.
"Let's go to the baseball field."
"The baseball field?? It's your bedtime."
"Come on, just for a minute. Puh-leeeeeeease"
We spent an hour playing baseball together as the sunset. Then we went to a local bar, ate pasta and watched the Yankee game. We talked baseball strategy and voted on our favorite commercials. He made me laugh. Finally he curled up in my lap, hours after his bedtime. I stroked his hair and felt truly fortunate. For a few hours, the unrelenting pain had relented.
I began the day as a devastated son, alone in the world, and ended it as a grateful father. I hope one day my son's child will give him the same comfort. There is no greater gift.