Thursday, August 22, 2002


It’s the little things that bring back grief. That sense of dislocation when you turn toward someone who isn’t there. Diane and I shared a passion for baseball, and she’s the first person I would call when something exciting was going on in the game. Now there’s nobody who understands or cares that Curt Schilling has more wins (21) than walks (20). (He’s with the Diamondbacks now, but I’ve been a fan of his elegantly controlled pitching since his days with the Phillies.) Nobody to call when Barry Bonds hits another home run. Nobody to share the excitement of last year’s World Series, the fan’s fantasy Series in which the home team always won and victory could be achieved in the bottom of the ninth.

Spring training is the hardest time -- we always spent time on the phone together as spring training approached, and she died a couple of weeks before pitchers and catchers reported to camp.

She was beautiful, gangling, energetic, enthusiastic, alive. Right up to the moment when she was dead. There was no warning, just a phone call signaling the sudden end of the world.

Her death changed my whole life. A major factor in the end of my marriage was Billy’s response to my grief and loss. I knew I needed other people, that I couldn’t get what I needed from him, so I reached out and opened myself to friends. That opening led me, step by step, to see the flaws in the marriage and to realize they weren’t all my fault. Leaving wasn’t inevitable; I wanted to stay in the marriage, but on different terms. Billy wouldn’t or couldn’t make the changes I needed. So I left. If she hadn’t died. . . . there’s no way to know what would have happened, sooner or later.

This April I had a vivid dream in which Diane told me that even healers need to be healed. It was like being with her — real, solid, three-dimensional. Lisa has said to me that the only times now when her life feels normal is in that kind of dream. And she has also said that she’s (at one and the same time) an inconsolably grieving mother and a normal person who handles crises, deals with work, laughs and smiles. The grief isn’t as bad for me — how could it be? — but it underlies everything.

Aunt and niece doesn’t sound like an especially close relationship, but it is, it is. I’ll never have my own children, but I am a good, loving, exotic aunt to my sisters’ children. And I was just 14, almost 15, when Diane was born. She’s almost like a sister, and my sisters are very dear to me.

And all this because I read about Curt Schilling’s astonishing record this year, and realized that, now that Diane is gone, nobody else would care.

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