A Year Gone By

SEATTLE - APRIL 08: Marilyn Niehaus (far right) along with family members unveils a new street sign in front of Safeco Field prior to the Mariners' home opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field on April 8, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The sign bears the name of Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus, who passed away last November. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Too often, reading the news makes me feel like a monster. Recently, as one example, there's been the whole Penn State thing. The story broke while I was away and completely off the grid, but I got caught up upon my return, and I haven't responded the way I think a normal person should respond. The story hasn't resonated with me the way that I feel like it should've. Granted, I pay zero attention to college football and know nothing about any of the people involved, but this is a dark story, one of the very darkest, and I have not felt what I would consider sufficiently upset. I know that it's awful, obviously I know that it's awful, but I don't feel like it's awful. Not enough.

I remember a time that the news made me feel human. It was one year ago, today, hours earlier in the evening, just after the sun had gone down because come November the Pacific Northwest figures we might as well all hibernate. Word got out that Dave Niehaus had passed away at the age of 75. I sat here, stunned still yet still shaken, and after a few minutes I decided to go for a walk.

I go for a lot of walks. A lot of walks and runs around the neighborhood. I walk and I run in part for the exercise, but mostly so I can think. After hearing about Dave, I went on a walk so I could think. I still remember that walk vividly. I remember the darkness, the leaves, the wind, the occasional cars driving by. It is among the only walks that I can remember, and I can remember it because I wasn't lost in thought. I was focusing on what was around me, because I didn't want to think about what I set off to think about.

A year. It's a year that's passed by both quickly and slowly, the way these things always do. I don't think time ever just flies by, and I don't think time ever just drags on. Some old things feel like they just happened, and some recent things feel like they happened ages ago. This has been a year that none of us were prepared to experience when the year first began. News of Dave's passing left us all in an unfamiliar place.

I'd like to thank the Seattle Mariners organization for doing such a wonderful job of guiding us along. This is kind of the main point of what will end up a hopelessly unstructured post. The more I've thought about it, the more I've come to appreciate how well the Mariners have done.

I have to say, I don't know how the Mariners could have done a bad job. I mean, I can think up various ways that the Mariners could have done a bad job, but none of them are realistic. I have trouble imagining how the Mariners could have gotten this wrong.

But I think the Mariners got it right. All aspects, or at least almost all aspects. Maybe there are things I'm forgetting. A lot has happened, and I don't remember much. But I can't remember ever feeling like the Mariners were being too sentimental, or too pragmatic, or too anything. I think they very consistently hit the right tone, from the statue to the on-field tributes to the patches to the anecdotes in the broadcast booth to the pregame concert on Opening Day. I'm remembering Macklemore right now, and I'm remembering the images on the scoreboard, and I can very honestly feel myself coming to tears. Now, tonight, so many months later. I am not somebody who's often brought to tears, unless somebody else finds a way to screw up a taco. I can't believe that somebody would screw up a taco.

I remember I wasn't sure about the rotating broadcaster idea at the beginning, and while I was mildly in favor, I was uncertain. It worked. At least for me, it worked. I enjoyed all the familiar voices, and I enjoyed most of what they had to say about the present and the past. This year also changed a lot about how I think of Rick Rizzs. Used to be I thought of him like...well, you know. This year exposed a different side, and as we all tried to walk a trail in the dark, I'm thankful that Rizzs was there with us, holding a lantern.

It's been a year since we lost Dave Niehaus. It's been a rough year, an incredibly rough year at times, but we all got through, and the Mariners were a big part of our recovery. Maybe recovery isn't the right word. Maybe healing process. The Mariners helped us to bear what we once thought to be unbearable.

I don't know where we go from here. Forward, I guess. There's no other option. I know that the worst is behind us. There will be rough patches ahead, but they will be fewer in number, and lesser in depth. We're almost as healed as we're ever going to get. Dave will forever be in our hearts.

When news first broke, a lot of people expressed that things would never be the same. Our mission now is to ensure and protect the truth of that statement.

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