On February 19, the day the full Dodgers squad officially reported to Spring Training, it had been 110 days since Game 7 broke our blue hearts. 110 days since Kenley Jansen threw the last Dodger pitch of an incredibly memorable, historic season, and 110 days since Corey Seager made the team’s last contact. And for many of us, 110 days since a type of heartbreak we had never previously known as baseball fans – that of our team losing not only the last game of the year they played, but losing THE very last game of the year.
And so we grieved. For many of us, those 110 days saw varying degrees of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance and not necessarily all in that order.
Before the Astros celebration even began, I switched off the TV and stayed off MLB Network – my usual go-to background noise at home – for a full two weeks. The Dodgers had been the focus and escape and literally the light of my life for 7 months, thrilling me and making me believe. And now it was all over and I just couldn’t deal with seeing the Astros celebrations, accolades, and especially the World Series parade that I someday want to attend as a Dodgers Fan.
When a great escape such as baseball leaves you, the realities of life can come at you hard. I had lost my job of almost a decade in September, and the Dodgers’ season – even though they were in the middle of that awful losing streak at the time – was enough to keep me distracted from the reality of my world being turned upside down. But like the end of a relationship you don’t quite want to let go of, I never fully dealt with the loss. Now I had all the time in the world to mourn both.
It was jarring going from one extreme to the other, but I needed to keep my mind away from the what ifs. I wrote a few pieces for Dodgers Nation, one between the hours of 2 and 5 a.m. on November 2 when I couldn’t sleep, talking about gratitude, but the sadness still felt like a heavy pillow on my chest.
I never really got to the “anger” phase as it is not quite in my nature, and I remained grateful for the season we had experienced, yet my mind continued to wander to the 1st inning of Game 7 and how close the team had come before that inning unfolded, and it refused to stop imagining the celebration among players and fans that would have ensued had Game 7 turned out differently.
But like the end of a relationship or death of a loved one, life kept trudging along. And with each day, a little perspective was gained. A dark, quiet sad month of November turned into the subdued festive nature of December, along with renewed hope as I searched for a new job and gained further perspective on everything I’d experienced as a Dodger fan in 2017.
On Day 31, my 46th birthday, I reconnected with some old friend who helped me decorate my house for Christmas, and serendipitously, one of them also talked me into applying for a job with her employer in an industry I was not previously interested in. As it turns out the employer fit me like a glove. On Day 45, I received the good news that I would be starting my new job after the New year.
On Day 54, Christmas found us all in the middle of a terrible winter blizzard. Most of that time was spent re-watching Game 1 of the World Series. It was a game I had attended in person. Though I was not quite ready to re-watch the entire series, Game 1 made me smile all over again. I closed my eyes and heard the sounds of Dodger Stadium and reminisced about my journey to LA. I remembered all of the friends I had met up with while I was there.
As the New Year approached with a new job on the horizon, I reflected on the Dodgers. Though they had broken our hearts, they had done more to save my life in so many ways. And that was what I was choosing to take with me into 2018.
I ventured into the beginning of a new career on Day 68. January was spent focusing on studying for licensing exams required for new employment. On Days 89 and 96 I wrote said exams, while starting to feel the excitement of a new season approaching.
And now, with a number of grieving days behind us, the new season is almost here.
On Day 96, the day after the Super Bowl, it was unseasonably warm in my corner of the world – so much so that schools were cancelled due to the possibility of flooding. And that morning I breathed in the fresh air and for the first time since November 1, 2017 allowed myself to really envision the warm nights of summer ahead.
It is almost here.
On Feb 13, Day 104, winter was back in my part of the world. While I cleaned several inches of ice off of my car that morning, I let my mind wander to Arizona. It was like the excitement of a student returning to school after a summer vacation away.
It is almost here.
New beginnings, new hope, reuniting with old friends with the certainty of making new ones throughout Dodgers Nation. Taking the life lessons that 2017 taught us, I’m ready to head into this new season with an open heart.
On Day 106, I completed my final step of healing and letting go. I watched the entirety of the World Series Film that I had recorded two months ago. Never before have I been ready to watch the whole thing. I had forgotten just how magical the whole series was. And not just the games I had been fortunate enough to see in person. The comebacks of Game 5. The glory of Joc’s home runs. How Chris Taylor kept coming up with big hit after big hit. This time, I didn’t cry, and I knew it was time.
Acceptance stage is complete, and I’m ready. It is almost here. Here comes the sun.
Welcome to a new season, fellow Dodgers fans! What will this new season bring? Stay tuned and follow me on Twitter (@GJOH29) as we navigate this new season together.
Kirk Gibson Will Throw Out the First Pitch at Openng Day