Just ahead is the familiar field, a diamond with rounded corners. I walk up with head down, anticipating that time will drag its feet while I sit and wish I could be attending to other things. But I’ll sit on the aluminum bleachers, surrounded by mosquitoes, gymnastic squirrels, and people’s dogs. I’m here for my son. My son, who is at his designated spot on the field, crouching behind home plate, wiggling fingers, giving signs to the pitcher, his very handsome face protected by a caged mask. My son, the only baby boy ever born. He is why s-u-n and s-o-n are homonyms.
On arrival, I greet other parents, other fans, address the social niceties, then I dissolve into the book I’ve brought. Some comment that they don’t usually see someone bring a book to a game. But I always do, so the regulars are not surprised. I remember bringing a copy of WIDOW FOR A YEAR by John Irving to Madison Square Garden. The Rangers were playing. While hockey fans bounced in their seats and waved team towels, I focused on my pages until my husband tapped me on the shoulder to stand for the national anthem.
To be honest, I’m not interested in the sport, not interested in the team. Don’t even care who is playing. Cannot pretend to root for someone else’s son. I’ll look up when my son is at bat, and I might glance to watch him walk to his position when the innings change. I arrive at the baseball field after the national anthem this evening. I sit between the third corner and home, turning pages, moving through chapters, absorbed in Dan Brown’s words at this game. I have no idea what the score is. I don’t know what team my son’s team is playing. I don’t know the inning is over until my husband says, “Michael is up.”
I hold my page with my finger and look at my son, his familiar batting stance. The intensity on his face. I say the “Our Father.” I imagine that Jesus Christ Himself is standing beside my son, and I say, “Jesus, please swing the bat with him.” The image of Jesus in flowing robes and billowing sleeves standing beside the batter’s box at Disbrow Park at dinnertime does not seem at all strange to me. I imagine that every time my son is up. I have complete faith that Jesus’ robes won’t get in the way of his swing. I say again, “Jesus, please swing the bat with him.” I know there are cancers to cure, crime and carnage to correct, and at this moment, I don’t care. I don’t care that people in countries with names I can’t spell don’t have clean drinking water. My son is up. This moment is important to my son, so it is important to me. My heart pounds. My teeth clench. I grip my book more tightly. I am praying in a loop. Jesus is used to hearing from me. I’ve asked Him for many things, big things. I assume many people have. A hit is such a small request. I imagine He shrugs and is amused. I’m still asking, “Jesus, please swing the bat with him.” As a mother, I can’t bear to see either of my children have anything less than a perfect experience. “Jesus, please swing the bat with him.”
I pray. I pray. I pray.
I close my book and focus on my son, praying, meditating to manifest an outcome. In my mind’s eye, I see my son getting a hit. I conjure images of my son’s bat connecting with the ball. I envision him surrounded in white light, picture Jesus with arms outstretched as if He is sending divine power, like a laser, straight to my son. The emotional effort is almost painful. The intense concentration gives me a headache. I feel his hits and misses to my very core. My soul vibrates with worry–no, unmeasurable love.
I hear the ching of the aluminum bat. It’s a double. I watch my son leave home and round the corners, stopping at second. I wish it were a triple, so he’d be standing on the third corner, closer to where I’m sitting, where I could see him better. I tell Jesus, “Thank you.” I can breathe again. I go back to my book. And in each inning when my son is at bat, my interest will go from flatline to spike.
After the game, my son asks, “Did you see how hard I hit that? It was a bomb, right in the gap.”
I say, “No, I was watching you, not the ball.”
“Why would you watch me run? You’re supposed to watch the ball.” He tries to explain why I was watching the wrong thing, but I know I saw exactly what I wanted to see.