Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A lesson from Phil...

It seems that every year for the last four I have written about the loss of a friend. Unfortunately, 2008 will be no different. Two days ago, my friend Phil Williams died.

Phil and I met at a St. Louis Cardinals game, in the bleachers at the old busch stadium, roughly 9 years ago. We were instant friends and eventually, we became family. (That's the beauty of baseball that most people never get to experience... a blog for another time.)

He was one of the most caring people I have ever met. He cared passionately about the people in his life and when he asked "how are you," he expected an honest answer. Phil relentlessly teased his friends but loved them whole-heartedly at the same time. On a personal note, Phil looked out for me. He told me all the time that I deserved better in life and in love. He told me to stop letting men treat me like crap. But he also told me not to forget to have fun in the process.

Phil was one of my biggest fans. He encouraged me constantly and loved to hear me sing the Canadian National Anthem. There's not often cause to sing that anthem during a Cardinals game but when Larry Walker, a native Canadian, played right field for the Cards, Phil thought Walker was a good reason. Every time Walker stepped up to the plate, Phil would turn to me and request the Canadian anthem. That song was just words and melody until now. Now, it will have meaning.

Phil rode the same rollercoaster that they rest of us ride. He had ups and downs, moments of unsurety and clarity. But he lived through it all with a smile on his face and his arms opened wide. Every greeting from Phil included his signature smile and a big hug.

I think it is human nature to focus more on the people in our lives after they have left us. Whether their departure comes in death or we sever ties for other reasons, we don't always realize what people contribute to our lives until they are no longer able to do so.

Phil Williams taught me to smile. He regularly confirmed my belief that hugs are powerful and that laughter is contagious.

Our baseball family has lost another member. I have lost a friend.

But in just over six weeks, when the baseball season gets under way, I will walk into that stadium and sit behind the seat where Phil has left a permanent mark (literally with black permanent marker) and I will heckle the bullpen and shout at the opposing teams outfielders and I will have a beer and remember Phil. And I will do it with a smile.


Janet said...

I am really sorry to hear about your loss. Phil seems like an amazing individual.

Annie said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, Michele. It's always hard. At least you've got plenty of positive to remember him by. :)