Last weekend my daughter invited me to watch her fiance play in a Sunday afternoon softball game. The teams were a collection of young and not-so-young adults who enjoy playing softball and hanging out. As a nurse, I was a little concerned. Most of the players were middle-aged, overweight, out of shape, and smoked cigarettes while waiting for the game to begin. I asked where the ambulance was. My daughter said, “I guess you’re it, Mom.” Good thing 9-1-1 is on speed dial.
The bleachers were speckled with parents, friends, and co-workers. The afternoon was sweltering, even in the shade. However unathletic the teams appeared, some players were really good, including my daughter’s fiance. Many could hit the ball into the outfield, but those in the outfield could throw the balls faster than middle-aged, overweight, out-of-shape bodies could run the bases. No matter, people were having fun – those in the field and dugouts, and those of us on the bleachers. Families and friends supported the players with cheers and claps. A wave of melancholia washed over me a time or two, and tears welled in my eyes.
My kids and I were held hostage by an abusive husband and father during the years my kids were growing up. I was denied the opportunity to watch my kids participate in sports, to clap and cheer from the stands. My now ex-husband was a brutal tyrant, mean to the core of his being. Those who do not understand the cycle of abuse often say they would have left a situation like ours. Those trapped in these situations know leaving is dangerous, and often don’t have the resources needed to care for our children if we were to run. Orders of protection are written on paper. Paper does not stop abusers from extracting their pound of flesh, especially when threatened by being found out.
As I watched the softball players bat, catch, and run the bases, my heart broke again, as it has many times in the past. I missed the precious moments of childhood, as did they – moments that others take for granted. We will never get those moments back. Never. We have grown stronger, healed a bit, and moved on in the eleven years since the divorce. But, the scars linger.
Forcing my thoughts back to the present and wiping away the tears, I thanked Divine Love for giving me the chance to sit here watching a bunch of young and middle-aged people enjoy a game of softball and the company of family and friends. I thanked Divine Love for my daughter sitting next to me on the bleachers. Precious, bittersweet moments……