The most intimate moment I ever had with my dad was at the local park a couple of years ago. I needed to have a really important conversation with him and we weren’t on good terms at the time, so to warm myself up and calm myself down, I asked him to shake the dust off the old baseball gloves one more time and play catch with me before hashing things out—just to bridge the gap a little before we talked.
The next twenty minutes took me back twenty years to seven-year-old me spending hours every day pacing back and forth in front of the window waiting for the clock to reach 3pm, waiting for any glimpse of that little black Toyota Corolla to come around the bend and pull into the driveway, for the tired mustached man with the blue lunchbox to climb out and open the back gate. And then began the begging and pleading with him to put aside all his bags and his fatigue and his stress and his to-do list and his wife and his dinner to play catch with me in the backyard. Sometimes exhaustion won, sometimes there wasn’t enough time, sometimes being his son wasn’t enough; but on the days that it was, I was pure happiness.
As long as there was a baseball flying between us, I was loved, I was seen, I was good enough. And he could catch anything I threw. No throw was too errant, no bounce too big, he caught them all. He was so strong. I could do this for hours if he let me; everything else was meaningless. This was all I ever wanted, every single day.
I’m twenty-seven again, tears rolling down my cheeks as I hurl this five-ounce baseball with every fiber of my being into the chest of the same mustached man standing across the field from me; because I know above anything else, that no matter how old I get or how hard I throw, he would always catch it simply because he is my dad. I’m glad he was far enough away to not notice my glasses fogging over. I didn’t want to have the conversation that I had asked him to have, I didn’t want to put the gloves back in the garage again, I didn’t want to go inside anymore. Standing a hundred feet apart at the park was the closest I ever felt to my dad.
How easily I forget that my Father, infinitely more so than my dad, can handle anything I ever throw at Him—curveballs and knuckleballs, fears and failures, hopes and dreams. And no matter what, His arm is strong. No matter what, I am loved, I am seen, I am enough. And now He is the one pacing in front of windows, begging me to stop what I’m doing, to put down my bags, to hold off on dinner, to carve out a few minutes of time to be with Him, just to throw a ball. Just to play catch.
And yet after all of this, I still find myself double-clutching the ball.
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