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For baseball fans who have lost someone

As we approach another home opener, some thoughts on grief, baseball and the passage of time

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

One of the things I miss most about living on the east coast is the change of the seasons - the clear delineations between the autumnal explosion of fall, frigid, desolate winter, muddy-to-verdant spring and hell (summer). On the west coast, we must become more creative in the ways we track the passing of time: The amount of light left in the sky at dinnertime, the volume of slop accidentally tracked into the house, the ratio of layers on our bodies to layers cast aside or carried in our arms. And, for some, it’s measured by baseball; its presence, its absence, the agonies and ecstasies.

Baseball season unfurls languidly, with a heavy-lidded romance that has lent itself to decades of poems and stories. It lulls you into a comforting routine, envelops you in the warmth of quiet camaraderie, but then suddenly the days have shortened and cooled and the games are numbered. I’ve always dreaded the final game of the season. I hate endings, and the uncertainties their ensuing absences bring, and though I know it is inevitable, the last out never fails to wring a few tears from my eyes. And then, as ever, the next day dawns and the companionship of baseball is gone, a gentle, hollow ache in its place.

This is Lookout Landing’s first baseball season without Tim Cantu, and it feels a lot like that day after the final game of the season. His absence doesn’t just shadow, it yearns to be filled, and the sheer, shimmering hope of this season carries a particularly heart-clenching melancholy.

As grief unspools with time, there are moments that draw the string taut again, and leave you raw as you were in the early days. So many times in the past few months have we, as a staff, murmured or messaged some variation of “I wish Tim were here for this.” It’s the blessing and the curse of the seasonality of this game. We repeat so many of the same motions and conversations, but that familiarity makes the crater of loss echo all the more cavernously. Yet there’s a gift within the simmering sorrow, that he is still such a constant presence as our lives trundle forward.

So to all who have lost someone, be it this off-season or otherwise, I hope you find comfort in this new season of life and baseball.

And to all who we’ve lost, no season is the same without you.