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Monday, May 22, 2017

Till They're Gone

There is a line in an old Joni Mitchell song that goes, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. That saying is probably true about a lot of things, but especially true when it comes to friends.

I miss Bob already and yet he just left a week ago.  Bob and I met for the first time when he joined the Halo Baseball Club about 6 years ago. He hadn’t played baseball in many, many years, and was a little out of shape. But he had a certain excitement and determination within him that you couldn’t help but notice. I liked him right away and kind of took him under my wing. I told him I would help him get familiar with our club, introduce him to all the guys, and that I would also work out with him. We both wanted to become better ballplayers, and we both had a real passion for the game, so we began working out together on a regular basis. It was fun and it made us better ballplayers... and it made us brothers.

Sometimes there would be a big group of guys at our practices and sometimes in the early days it was just me and Bob. I would hit him grounders, then he would hit me grounders. Then we would work on fly balls and then we would throw batting practice to each other. I’ll never forget the time I smoked a line drive right back at him. He got his glove up in time to just barely tip it away from his face, but it hit his glove so hard it fractured the end of his finger. I felt terrible, but Bob never complained and with his finger taped up, he played in a baseball game the very next week. Bob is tough and loves the game of baseball, so nothing is going to keep him out of a game. He worked extremely hard at getting better and he did get better, good enough to become both the most improved player in our club… and the most inspirational player …all rolled into one. And oh yeah, did I mention that Bob is 68 years old. You would never know it watching him play.

Bob is gone now, he moved to Idaho to be closer to his children. I texted him yesterday to make sure he got there okay and he texted back, “I love you, bro”. Now, I know that may sound weird but sometimes guys have a way of forming a bond with each other that is pretty special. Bob and I had that, or should I say still have that. It won’t matter how long it is before we see each other again, we will always have a special bond, sharing a passion for the game of baseball, as well as a passion for making the most of life at any age.

Getting that text from Bob reminded me that friendship is more valuable than gold and that we should definitely never take our friends for granted. So I decided right then and there to text a few friends that I hadn’t seen lately, ask them how they’re doing, and let them know I’m thinking about them. Every single one of them answered back in right away, in best friend kind of way, and it made me feel good that I had taken a few seconds to show my love to my bro’s. Life truly is short, so if you have a few close friends, don’t neglect them. You don’t know when they might be gone. And oh yeah, I think I forgot to mention something, Bob’s been battling a serious brain tumor for over a year now. Bob, if you’re reading this… I love you Bro!

Nothing but heaven itself is better than a friend who is a truly a friend.
~ Tim Cahill

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