I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this.
First off, in full disclosure, I’ve suffered through several personal tragedies in my life. I lost my mother to Lupus when I was 14, then my grandfather just several months later. Those were and still are the hardest experiences I’ve ever gone through.
I say that not for pity, but to provide context. The thing about both of those experiences was that even though I was young, I understood my my mother was sick. I understood my grandfather was getting up there in age and had lived a good life. Their deaths, while earth-shattering and heartbreaking, at least made sense in my naive brain.
I understood dying is a part of life. I understood there are things in this world that we as humans simply can’t control. I understood that God has a plan for each and every person that walks this earth.
For some reason, Oscar Taveras’ death has still not made sense to me. I thought (hoped) that by now I’d at least have some semblance of rhyme or reason why a 22 year old with immense promise and life ahead of him and an 18 year old girl were taken so suddenly. I’ve struggled with so many schools of thought over the last three days.
Why is this affecting me so much? I never even met or talked to Oscar. Am I overreacting? Should the death of an athlete impact me this much?
Death is part of life, right? What am I truly upset about? The loss of life, or am I just selfishly upset that the Cardinals are now without one of their future stars? Is that even an OK thought to have? Should I feel guilty about some of my feelings?
How must his family and his girlfriend’s family feel? My grief pales in comparison theirs. Why can’t I make any sense of this?
Chances are you’ve struggled with some of, and maybe all of, those same thoughts. It’s OK.
What makes this so difficult, so different is that when you think of Oscar Taveras, you think of someone whose entire career has been nothing but looking forward. We’ve heard about him for years and when we thought of Oscar, it represented thinking about the future. He was the future.
Even today when I think about Oscar, my mind defaults to the future. It begins to envision that sweet swing sending balls out to the right field bullpen. That beautiful follow through gracing the skies. His infectious smile and youthful antics all throughout the field. It’s the same thoughts my brain has been trained to invoke over the last three or four years.
Perhaps the hardest part has been and will be retraining our brain, because the future was stripped away from us. It was stripped away from his parents, his family, his teammates, his coaches. It was stripped away from the thousands of friends and loved ones who showed up to say goodbye to him at his funeral in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
It was stripped away from Oscar.
It’s a complete robbery of life that I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.
Follow Cole Claybourn @HighSock_Sunday or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org