I hadn’t been back. I hadn’t been to the concrete court since probably 4-5 months before your hand oddly stopped working as it should. You’d be holding a glass, let alone a racket, and it would just drop.
But now it is 16 months “after. Post- treatment, post-surgeries, post living at home, post-walking. And I return.
Today I am back at our court. The place I first learned where to play. Where I took lessons, then walked over to the town pool. Where I could see my grammar school and church where I had all my sacraments. The place where in the last few years, we’d go to escape and hit balls for an hour or so.
One of my best memories of the adult Dad-Daughter relationship was our match after Christmas. You WHOOPED my ass! Since you were healthy and playing two times a week (God, that kills me to think how healthy you were pre-tumor), you could run circles around me. I loved that you beat me without a doubt, and bragged to my friends how my 60-something year old Dad just creamed me in tennis…because he is that good.
You must have been good, because it is how you met Mom. A story you were getting ready to share the other day when I was leaving the nursing home. The afternoon activity was sharing the “how you met and fell in love” tales of everyone’s lives.
So I find myself at the wall. The daunting, towering slab with the sun playing hide and go seek, adding visual tension. Every bounce of the ball, emotion rises up in me. Every swing of my racket lands your voice in my head “Great shot, Kate!” or “Again- but remember to follow through”.
I miss you so much and yet I am lucky to have you present. I know that. But in this moment, I just want you here. Coaching me, while also being my equal. I miss learning from you and finding moments to carve out slices of life that we can both enjoy; separate from illness, responsibility, or caretaking.
My serves were amazing. Honestly, I don’t think my starts have ever been as consistent. Each round, I try to focus on this hit. This return. Not the emotion, not the anguish of not having my favorite tennis partner here today.
Your words follow my moves and I realize this is truly what I miss. Another avenue to you that just isn’t as accessible right now.
I barely make it to my car before the grief takes over. But I’m proud. Sweaty and proud- because I found more depths of strength and lost pieces of you.