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Knowing We're Alive
by Terry Barlow
02/19/13
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Lately my mind returns to the memory of my much admired big brother performing in little league. I might have beem 8 years old at the time in which case my brother would have been 12. He was a pitcher/first baseman. I don't know if I was alone at the game or had family along beside me. What I do remember is my brother hitting a key (maybe even game-winning) home run and sailing around third base on his way to home plate. (I wonder deep down if that's not a part of why we like baseball with so much reference to "home" as in home plate and home run and home team, not to mention the accompanying food&drink as in plate and pitcher.) My brother can't talk or even walk now as a result of a stroke but he does understand conversation, so next time I see him he just may be reminded of his crucial home run and of a no-hitter he pitched a few years later. He cries alot when visitors come to see him which, of course, is typical of surviving stroke victims. It so happened that my brother was crying that day too as he rounded third base. I had only rarely seen him cry so it was a curiousity to me, even a mystery. I wondered why was he so emotional. Was it because of the pressure of the game and how hard he was trying to make a difference and to please his coach and team? Were other frustrations being expressed that had nothing to do with baseball? He was usually so cool, calm and collected, so seemingly in control. But this time he was crying in deep sobs as his teammates swarmed around him. I was so proud of him that day and many other days in his sports career, and I called and told him so once before his stroke. There was a short silence then on his end of the line before he genuinely thanked me, as we shared one of our closest moments as adults. Once long before as we drove along together, he had comforted me in my heartbreak and tears over an early relationship. To this day I remember an older brother's wisdom that brought a measure of consolation as together we drove the highway that night and he responded, "At least you know you're alive."

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