With a grueling, tiresome summer full of nonstop hurdles and battles, it was time for some fun. As an avid Yankees fan and it being the final season in the Stadium, I had to get to one last game before the Yanks moved to the new Stadium. On August 17th, my law school friends Ashley, Joe and Matt made the drive down to Connecticut to pick me up to see the Kansas City Royals take on the Yankees. Though it was difficult for me to have to face the world in the state that I was in, words could not describe how elated I felt when I saw them actually get out of the car and approaching my front door. They all knew I was still unable to communicate as a 24-year-old should be able to, but they didn’t let that seem to bother them.
The whole day was reminiscent of how things used to be – joking, laughing and just having fun in each other’s company. I honestly cannot remember a whole lot about the game or the afternoon, but I savored every moment of it. The grass had never looked so green, the organ never sounded so great and the buzz in the air was akin to being at a playoff game. Yet, not everything was as cheery as it may sound.
As I sat there watching the game, I could not help but to think about what to talk to my friends about, if anything at all. We suddenly had nothing in common anymore, but I mustered up the courage and attempted to make small talk. From what I can remember and by their facial expressions, I was doing okay. Yet, there is one “conversation” that I, nor Ashley, will ever forget.
The guys had gotten up to go to the concession stands and there we were – just Ashley and I. The last time the two of us had been alone together prior to that moment was also in New York City. To set the scene, the month after school had ended and about three weeks before being diagnosed, I took Ashley to New York City to see Jersey Boys on Broadway and then out for a great dinner. The entire day was full of laugher and fun and I knew at that moment that things were going to work out between us. I think we both saw a side of each other that made us realize we complimented one another. Being in classes together during our first year, we always focused on our studies and we were both afraid to take things any further in fear of losing our close circle of friends. In the words of Frankie Valli: “Oh what a night, why’d it take so long to see the light? Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right.”
Here I was, finding myself alone with her again – a moment I feared I would never have again upon receiving the diagnosis. Me being the avid fan that I was, and it being her first time at the Stadium, I figured it would be nice to tell her some things about the Yankees and the Stadium. With the thought in mind, I pointed down at Monument Park and she followed my pointing finger. “What?” she said. In my mind, I was saying “that there is Monument Park! Do you see the all of the numbers? Well, those are all of the retired numbers! And those monuments, those are for Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle!” She looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, what are you showing me? Are you pointing to the Snoopy billboard? Ohhh, the American Flag?!” Apparently, I was not making any sense when I spoke so I shook my head no, and with that, stopped talking. I felt terrible because I knew that she was upset that she could not understand me and I was disappointed in myself for being unable to communicate with the girl I was falling for.
That was just how things were going for me lately. While I was still enjoying myself being at the game and was so grateful that I had great friends that drove down to take me there and spend their afternoon with me, I was so disappointed in my progress, or lack thereof. I dwelled on that moment the rest of the game, the drive home and that evening.
My closest friends from law school were going back to Rhode Island to resume classes and I was staying behind. Goodbyes have never been too difficult for me, but that one was particularly rough as the realization of what a long road ahead I still had ahead of me. How would I ever get back to my old self and is that even a realistic question for me to be asking anymore? Is this who I will be forever? My life was halted and I also felt like I was hindering my family and friends who wanted nothing more than to see me flourish and wake up as my old self.
On the positive side of things, at least the Yankees won, 15-6.