Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What my little Fierce Tigers taught me about showing up

I was McKayslin's softball coach this summer (along with Callie and Maria). Our little team of 11 girls had 3 players that had played before.  8 that were new to the sport, and of those 8, 2 who were very young compared to the rest of the team.

Learning something new takes time.  
A lot of time.  
And a lot of practice.  
Each of my little fierce tigers had to learn how to catch, how to throw, how to run the bases, how to field, how to pitch, how to play catcher, and how to hit the ball.  
How to play as a team.

We practiced twice a week and played twice a week for most of the month of June.  Those little tigers worked so hard.  They rarely complained.  And we worked them hard.

They practiced the same drills over and over and over until fielding a grounder was second nature.  
Until swinging a bat felt natural.  
Until throwing a ball became automatic.

Each inning they were expected to participate as a team in cheering each other on (this rarely required any reminders from their coaches - they were such an awesome little team!) when it was our turn to bat, and to be supportive in the field, while playing whichever position I put them in without complaint.

And honestly, in all of our four days of softball a week, the complaints I heard could be counted on one hand (and most of those came from the coach!).  Those 11 little tigers just did.not.give.up.

Our "win/loss" record wasn't great.
By score, we won two games.
But you know what was so awesome about these little tigers?  Even when the final score didn't show a win, they won because they showed up, they had fun, they worked together, they smiled, they encouraged each other, and they just.did.not.give.up.

July is a hard month.
It's always been Kenton's favorite month.
The 4th of July.
His birthday and birthday trip.
The 24th of July.
Backyard fires.

But now, our Julys are tempered with the lonely ache of missing our Kenton.
Sadness locked in to each promised continued tradition.
Hurt in each adapted tradition.

Instead of watching the Hyrum 4th of July parade, last year and this year, we participated, promoting Kenton's Cup (August 28-30, 2014).
We went to Richmond for ice cream.  
Just like every year.
I had Funky Fudge (Kenton's favorite).
Instead of ordering pizza and parking near a field to play frisbee or catch until fireworks, we picked up take out and had a picnic and watched fireworks at the cemetery.
Our McDonald Family joined us and brought along a Cream Soda party and glow sticks just about dark.  
We haven't had a backyard fire yet.
But we will.
And I'll eat a S'Mintz for Kenton.
Saturday is Kenton's birthday.
His 14th.
His 2nd in Heaven.
We'll start the morning with a session at the Brigham City temple with our Acevedo Family.
We'll share some laughs with Grammy and our McDonald Family at Who Shot Juanito Bandito in the afternoon.  And we'll end the day with dinner at Texas Roadhouse and then a visit with Kenton.  We'll take balloons and treats and a little Schleich Clyde that McKayslin picked out.
Next week, we'll make a trip to Salt Lake to deliver games and toys and coloring books and play-doh to PCMC in honor of Kenton.  
We get to do that because we have awesome friends.
Who knows...maybe we'll even go camping before July is over.

Even almost 18 months later, living with grief, without Kenton, is still so new to us.
Learning something new takes time.  
A lot of time.  
And a lot of practice.

We roll through the same emotions over and over and over until breathing through a panic attack becomes second nature.  
Until wading through waves of grief feels almost natural.  
Until smiling once again becomes automatic.

But to do that, we have to
Day after day, hour after hour, minute by minute, we have to
We're doing a little better with that.

Our friends are so much like my little fierce tigers. 
They're our team. 
They just show up.
They show up with love.
With understanding.
With encouragement.
And they never complain that during that inning we're a little less ourselves than what they'd hoped to receive.
That we're different than how we used to be.
They just don't.give.up on us, regardless of how many times we give up on ourselves.

And maybe, although the scoreboard of smiles vs. tears doesn't show it, July will be a win, because we'll show up, we'll have fun, we'll work together, we'll smile, we'll encourage each other, and we just.will.not.give.up.

That's what Kenton taught me too.
Show up.
Don't give up.
You are enough.

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