The lights were bright, distracting me from the road, drawing my eyes to the empty field. The grass faded green in the outfield, the dirt cleanly shaped to outline the infield. Where were the children? Why was the field lit up, but empty?
I thought of my trip to Chicago, walking through millennium park, passing 6 or 8 empty baseball fields - I wanted to run through them, use them in some way but we stayed on the path looking out at them- I a bit entranced by the empty beauty, imaging all they held, the games won, the time spent together as a team, as a family. A couple walked onto them, over them, through them. I didn’t know if they would be playing catch or just using them as a short cut. We walked on. Their blankness stuck out in my mind.
They were empty, I felt empty. I wanted them to be full of children playing, of teams battling for a championship, of inner city youth having an outlet, a green space to play a safe place to come. Maybe I just wanted those things for myself, I needed a safe place to be, a place full of life, of hope and things won.I turned my head again and looked at the empty field, all lit up, the signs of fall apparent, the dying grass, the leafless trees. Turning my head back to the road, I drove on. NPR began reporting about deaths in Iraq, focusing on one marine who had died. His mother spoke, frank and open, the love and loss apparent in her voice. She read a poem he’d written after returning from Afghanistan, the change in his personality evident. His brother spoke about being told not to enlist, to stay away from the Marines. His mother spoke about sitting her son down before he returned to Iraq to plan his funeral, just in case. How he had decided to have his friends be pallbearers, not the marines and then described them carrying his coffin. The reporter came back on, I heard the tears in her voice, as she ended the story. I started to cry. I let myself cry. As I pulled onto my friends road, I stopped myself, I knew if I really let it hit me I wouldn’t stop. I pulled myself together. As I sat in the car, turning it off, getting my things together, I thought about the young marine about all the loss in our world. As I write this now, I see that empty field as the beginning of my thoughts changing, my perspective shifting to emptiness and loss. I didn’t see the field as awaiting the game that would be played later in the evening, the lights just warming up. I just assumed the field was empty, would sit ready for something that would never come. Like this marine’s mother, sitting, empty, waiting for someone that wouldn’t return.