Just a thought… What if when you die, they ask “How was heaven?” [Author Unknown]
This week, many of us met a man we’d never heard of (in fact, I can only hope I’m saying his first name right in my audio journal) but who has already become a hero to me.
His name is Yangervis Solarte. He came to us in the off season from the San Diego Padres and because of some injuries, he’s been called in to play with the team in the infield. This is the guy who has claimed the area in front of the Blue Jays’ dugout as his dancing zone; when there’s a home run, he’s got his hands in the air like he just don’t care, and he’s already proven a great source of energy and entertainment for teammates and fans alike. You can follow him on Twitter @solarte26.
Sure, we’ve seen spirited players before. But the Venezuelan Solarte’s story is what resonated with me most clearly. In September 2016, about a year-and-a-half ago, his 31-year-old wife Yuliette died from complications due to cancer. Spots were found on her liver when their youngest was born two months early. Yuliette left behind three daughters, now aged 8, 6 and 2. That means that, like our Colin, that baby girl was left without her momma, as were her sisters. A husband, undoubtedly overwhelmed, lost his life partner and became a single dad.
How has he embraced it? A journal visitor tells me that in Dunedin this year, where the Jays train in the spring, Solarte’s girls were in a private (which is not so private in the confines of the park in Florida) box. When Solarte came up to the plate, they yelled, “Daddy! Daddy!” to which he responded with a smile and a wave. When he hits a home run, he does the alligator snap with his arms, and that’s for his girls.
I’m going to go ahead and guess that everything he does is for his girls now. As Solarte himself said of his late wife, “Everything was for her. She always told me that whether she dies or doesn’t die, I can’t stop playing. Because all of the goals I set for myself, they were for our daughters and I had to be able to assure their future.”
This reader told me that there was a lady there taking care of the girls at the game; a new mother figure, perhaps. Who knows? If she is, great! As we’ve learned from our own experience with Phil and Brooke, having that spot filled quickly can be the best thing for everyone – better than anybody on the outside looking in can possibly imagine – and if you care about and love that little family, you only want their happiness. That’s where we find ourselves, and I hope that Mr. Solarte’s family does too. Everyone deserves happiness.
That’s why today as I write this journal I am thinking of my sister Leslie. It’s her birthday and comes just 5 days after she marked one year since her son’s violent death in what we believe to be a homicide in Kelowna. RCMP aren’t saying for sure, as it involved a house explosion and fire. But there are plenty of suspicions and it appears the wheels of justice are turning slowly. We’ll wait.
Leslie and her family pulled up stakes – or perhaps put them down might be more accurate – after living a somewhat nomadic life both in Canada and the US. They’ve now moved to Kelowna to be closer to Leslie’s late son’s baby boy (with whose mother Leslie has a wonderfully close relationship), and to be near Dad and the Davis sisters. She made her new life and is proving that, in her way, she can dance outside the dugout, too.
We all can. It’s finding reasons to celebrate, discovering that one sweet berry amongst the bramble and thorns and always remembering that grief has no timeline and definitely no rules about dancing – or not – whenever you feel like it.