A season of sorrows, large and small

In times of trouble such as these, some sorrows are smaller than others.

But they’re heartaches, nonetheless.

The cancellation of the rest of the school year because of the coronavirus hit my home hard.

My son is a high school senior. He’s also a baseball player.

He’s loved the game since he was eight years old. Back then, he would have me pitch batting practice to him or hit fly balls and grounders until we both dripped with sweat and my aching, aging body begged for rest. Even then, he would continue working on his game, tossing baseballs up in the air and whacking them out into the street, while his mother and I watched from the porch or the kitchen.

She and I were delighted to see him become so involved with baseball for at least two reasons.

The first was that baseball did for him what sports often do for young people. It helped him develop personal discipline. It taught him how to work with other people. The game matured him and deepened both his appreciation of life and his commitment to enduring values.

Before the pandemic shut much of life down, he balanced going to school, doing workouts and practices with his team and laboring at two jobs.

Baseball helped shape him so that he could do all that.

For that alone, I’m grateful to the game.

The second reason we were happy to see our son grow enchanted with baseball is more selfish.

It was just a lot of fun to watch him play.

This life offers many pleasures. Few are greater than watching one’s children do something they love.

My wife and I have spent many, many pleasant hours at ballparks, cheering for our son and his teammates with other parents, grandparents, siblings and friends. Great days. Happy days.

My son has played on many teams with many, many fine young men over the years. But his primary devotion has been to his school team.

Last year’s squad was particularly tightknit. The guys had played together for years and had formed a kind of family of their own. They began and ended each game by standing in a circle, arms draped around each other’s shoulders, one whole, unbent and unbroken.

They played some great baseball. They knocked off some well-regarded teams and looked like they might be able to contend for a state title.

But they suffered a couple of key late-season injuries, had a difficult draw in the sectionals and went down fighting in a tough final game.

The coach told me that, after the game, the team members sat in the dugout for a long time. All cried. Some sobbed. They were disappointed that they lost the game, of course, but what really broke their hearts was that it was the last game they would play together.

They were sorry to see it end.

My son and his fellow seniors vowed they would make this season even better. They would find a way to win for the guys who had gone off to college. They scheduled workouts on their own in the off-season and hung out together all the time.

Tight. Tight. Tight.

That all came to an end with the announcement that schools would remain closed for the rest of the academic year.

I realize as I write this that there is nothing that special about this story. It’s a tale that could be told by family after family after family across Indiana and America.

When this pandemic recedes, the greatest losses will be ones that we can count – lives that were lost, jobs that disappeared, people that were crushed by this horrible time.

Other, smaller losses will be harder to tally. How does one measure the value of treasured moments that never take place – watching a child graduate, hearing the crack of a bat on a lovely spring evening, seeing a group of young men stand in a circle, arms over each other’s shoulders, drawing strength from each other?

Such vanished moments are not the greatest source of sorrow in this troubled time.

But they do make the heart ache.

John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Send comments to [email protected].