Dear younger Me,
I remember the day you helped him pack his bags and walked him into the airport. He was leaving to go chase his dreams. Your boyfriend, the 4th round draft pick to the San Diego Padres. At this point, you had loved him for over 2 years. You had said many goodbyes but there had always been one more hello. This goodbye was confusing. You knew you were watching the prayers he had prayed being answered. A professional baseball player is what he had worked so hard to become, but this included many unknowns. You couldn’t help but wonder if his new journey would continue to include you. If it would change him. If it would change you. You tried to understand the smile on his face and the excitement in his eyes while you fought back tears. You had an aching heart filled with questions. He deserved this, he earned this, and you were so very proud of him. You pushed away the fear as you wished him luck and kissed him goodbye.
But inside you were whispering, please don’t go.
There’s so much I wish I could say to that girl. I wish I could wrap her in my arms and hold her in that very moment. I wish I could tell her she was right, this was going to be hard. One of the hardest things she’d ever do. I wish I could show her how many times she was going to feel her heart break. How many nights she’d cry herself to sleep. How many times she’d say, “I’m ok” so no one worried. How many hard days she would sweep under the rug because he was finally able to call and needed support from her. How many things they would miss. Birthdays, anniversaries, deaths and victories. She will have to learn how to be okay alone, even when she isn’t okay alone. How many times she would have to forgive him and how many times she would have to apologize as they find their way. That game she has always loved, she’ll also learn to hate. She will learn to hate the way he won’t always get what he deserves. She will hate the way it breaks him down and makes him feel like he isn’t good enough. She will hate the way it keeps them apart. She will hate how unpredictable it is and how she can never really have a plan. She will have to learn how to ignore the fans that degrade the boy she loves. How to brush off the girls two rows over who are thumbing through the roster like it’s a catalog (and always landing on Nick). How self-conscious she will become feeling like she has to look a certain way and act a certain way to be the perfect baseball wife. How dark some of the days will be when she isn’t sure if it’s worth it or if they are really meant to be together. I wish I could tell her this goodbye wasn’t going to be the hardest. That she will lose him for a moment in time while he finds his way. That ultimately, this team that gave Nick a chance would later tell him they didn’t want him anymore.
But if I warned her, she would never become ME.
If I warned that girl how hard it would be she would never get to see how wide she can spread her wings. That girl who was crying in the airport had no idea how brave she would become. How much she would learn to appreciate time. Time with him, time with family, time alone, time with God and time with friends. She had no idea how many new towns she would see and how many new friends she would meet. She will find comfort in the people who pick her up when he isn’t around. That tissue from the stranger on the plane who can see tears on her cheeks because she just said goodbye again and doesn’t quite know when she will see him next. That friend that will show up with two bottles of wine for a dance party in her living room on a Tuesday night so she isn’t alone. That card she will get in the mail from her Grandma reminding her everything is going to be ok because God is in control. She would have never learned how to take the mask off and be proud of every single flaw. She would have never met the baseball women who have become her sisters and some of the strongest dang women she will ever know. She had no idea that boy would get down on one knee and make her his wife.
She would watch the boy she loved become a man that provides and protects. She would quit her job that she worked towards her whole life and follow a dream to share this story. She will connect with so many fans, women living similar lives, families, and players. She will dedicate herself to encouraging others who wander and dream like they do. She will see how strong she will become after learning how to forgive. She will find endless love in a four-legged creature who will become her constant companion and best friend. She will fall in love with the chaos, the moving without fair warning and each fly-over state that she will call home. She will brave the storms and cross the valleys. She will learn how to pick up her husband’s broken heart and encourage him as he continues to fight for his dream. She will tell their story, all of it. The highs, the lows, the hurt, the joy, the victories and the defeats. She will become someone she is proud of. He will become someone she is proud of.
If someone is reading this and you are new to this baseball world, I want you to know you are about to live. Life is about searching, learning, making mistakes, learning again, loving, losing, finding and sharing. There is no right way. There is no perfect story. At times you will feel the magic and at times you will lose it. The beauty in living is that you will find it again. By doing so, you will grow. You will learn to cherish and appreciate so many things. Be present. Be in the magic. Don’t wish away the days hoping for better ones. These are the days you will miss because these are the days that are shaping you. Don’t let the fear of the unknowns paralyze you. He will learn and grow too. Be patient with each other, this life is challenging. Speak up. You are allowed to say you are struggling if you are struggling. He will have to learn how to support you through this just like you will learn how to support him. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We all need help. Being on the road playing baseball isn’t a vacation. It’s lonely for him too. He will miss you like you miss him. Lean on each other. Together you will become your own team. Spread your wings. You can do it, even when you feel like you can’t. You can chase your dreams and love him, whether you are together or apart. Don’t stop living your passions, ever. Life is an adventure. Baseball is an adventure. Four years has come and gone in the blink of an eye. We look around and so many people we started this journey with have moved on.
Baseball isn’t forever. Take the trip to be with him. Say hello to the stranger next to you. Find your voice. You won’t get along with everyone and that’s okay. Some people won’t like you and that’s okay. Don’t doubt yourself. Comparing will destroy your God given beauty. Being “her” won’t bring you more happiness. Being “them” won’t either. Be you. Be where your feet are. Love hard. Find the positives. You will be okay.
Trust me. You will be okay.