Today I passed Marquette High School on my way home. While I have made this drive many times since our move last summer, today I felt a pull. I turned around in a subsequent neighborhood, barely noticing the houses appearing before me with the rain, and then I found myself in the parking lot. It's strange how the mind can mess with you; harbor memories until all relevance and convenience have passed. But then, grief is hardly convenient.
I sat there for a moment, watched the water hit the blacktop and cursed the absence of an umbrella out loud to no one, and then I thought about the last time I was here. With her.
It was October. Post-season high school softball and I, the assistant junior varsity coach had been sent to scout our potential opponents. There I sat behind the backstop, clipboard and rosters in hand. I spoke to no one, quietly sipping my Sprite as I charted pitches and bunt formation and clean up stances. I was eighteen weeks pregnant.
It was the seventh inning when I felt her move for the first time. I remember it as though it were ten minutes, and not nearly four years ago. There'd been a squeeze play. It was brave and it was dramatic, and as the players collided at home I had shifted, ever so slightly and there she was.
I remember because I looked down, hand to my stomach and I'd missed the call at the plate. Everyone was cheering and it felt like they were cheering for us. I smiled to myself. I looked around at all the people I didn't know, and I thought how absolutely, annoyingly perfect my life had become.
I'm sure people assume that it's difficult to move forward. Some days it's all you can do to gain an inch either way, but for me it's harder to go back. She left me and suddenly I could only look ahead, instantly terrified of everything familiar, and all I'd ever known before.
Looking back is what hurts the most. The moments you were happiest. The song on the radio after the ultrasound. Strawberry milkshakes and sand in toes and pictures in denim smocks. Chalk stained tennis shoes and sunflower seeds and the smell of glove on your hand.
Today the air is wet and the stands are empty. School is out and the grass is tall. There were no calls from Centerfield and there was no reminder from within. Just a mom on her knees in the rain, and one too many U Turns.