"When Gabriel was alive, did you ever think he might be one of those cases that lives for months, or years?"
I did. I prayed, and wondered, and hoped, and even worried that we would be that family, and that my son would be that boy that proved all of the doctors wrong.
I remember the conversation with my mother in law.
"I wonder if his living longer than expected will make things harder?"
"Oh. It will," she told me, as if that would be my punishment for carrying my son to term, and "forcing" her son along for the ride.
I would much rather remember the conversation with my own mother.
"Your dad keeps thinking maybe this is a sign. Maybe he is supposed to retire right now and help you take care of this little boy."
We could dream. And we did. For ten days we clung to our hope, knowing how unlikely our dreams were to come true, but also knowing that days 2, 3, 4, and 10 were unlikely too. See, by the time he was born, the medical community had written him off, and every day that he lived he made the impossible feel possible. Even when he died, taking a piece of my broken heart with him, I was filled with gratitude for the boy who fought so hard, defying the odds and the expectations. Maybe he wasn't going to live for months, or years, or even 11 days. But he will always be my son.
Fast forward 5 years and several months to a Saturday night, game 161 of the regular season, and the Seattle Mariners entering the 10th inning of a game that would decide whether or not game 162 would matter, whether game 162 would be their last chance to make it to the Wild Card game for a chance to play in the World Series. They were tied in a game against the last place team in the division and one might think it would have been an easy win, but the Mariners had already won the last two games of the series and statistically, they were due for a loss. But then again, back in July, most people probably thought that by October 1, the Mariners would have long been eliminated.
The game wasn't airing on any of the channels available to me, so I kept my phone in my hand, checking the game status every few minutes. In the 10th inning, Oakland scored, and even with the last at-bat, the Mariners couldn't catch up. The Mariners lost, and the play off dream was deferred for another year.
Oh, but what a season! 3 players, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, hit over 30 home runs this season - The first time since 1997, The Griffey Jr. Year. Seth Smith hit two grand slams. The Mariners won 86 games this season, finishing at .531 and looking like wild card hopefuls until the second-to last game of the year. Seeing that loss, knowing what it meant, tugged at my heart. But the 2016 Seattle Mariners had given me hope, and sometimes hope just has to be enough.
You see, I am no fair-weather fan. One cannot have followed a team for 15+ years, watching them make it to the playoffs only once in that period of time and to this day, never having an opportunity to watch them in the World Series, and be a fair weather fan.
One cannot plead with God to make her a mother, beg God for a baby boy, but say that she loves him only so long as he is healthy, looks just like other children, and will outlive her. I prayed for my little boy, and rain or shine, he is mine. He is the love of my life. The grief of losing him poured down on me and threatens to drown me still, and still I hold on to my love for him, the hope of seeing him again someday, and the dream that I may be worthy of the promises of Heaven.
10 innings. 10 days. They can test your limits, and they can change the world.