Harrison is supposed to have his first baseball game since cancer tonight. He is so excited that he almost cannot contain himself. He’s worked hard getting stronger, keeping up his skills, and exercising to be ready for this night.
All the work he’s done has shown me a number of things. First, Harrison is as good defensively as he was before cancer. It amazes me that after all he has endured physically, including a stroke, that he “still has it.” He is smooth fielding ground balls and has a strong, accurate throw across the infield. It’s like riding a bike for him. He was an excellent shortstop last season. He may be better this year, even with cancer.
Second, treatment for leukemia affects a kid’s legs more than I imagined. Unfortunately, Harrison cannot run like he could before. He struggles even getting to first base. He recognizes this, but doesn’t let it stop him. He’ll not have the range at short he’s had in the past, but he’ll still be superb, I think. Last season he so often went into the hole for the backhand and made the throw all the way across to first. He can still make the throw, but will struggle getting to the ball. That’ll just even the playing field :-).
Finally, I’ve learned that Harrison is my hero. I can’t believe his willingness to work hard in spite of his setbacks. He pushes himself. He fights for everything he gets. He doesn’t know how to give up. If I’d been through what he’s been through, I’d probably quit. Not him.
Harrison is not only fighting his cancer (and the treatment for it), he’s also having to fight that voice inside (and, unfortunately, sometimes from others) that he “can’t do it.” So far, he’s put the beat down on that voice inside. Tonight he’ll say to the cancer, “You cannot stop me!”
When steps onto that baseball field he will do something the doctors said couldn’t happen. When he makes that first play, gets that first hit, and scores that first run, he’ll be saying to anyone who will listen, “You can do it, too.”
When I watch that little man make fielding ground balls look easy I remember what one of his friends said after watching him play shortstop for the first time: “Harrison is to his team what Derek Jeter is to his team.”
I once asked Harrison if cancer could stop Jeter from playing shortstop. His response? “I don’t know, but it can’t stop me.”
Am I nervous? Sure. I’m nervous that he’ll take a bad hop to his port. I’m nervous that he’ll trip trying to run faster. I’m nervous that his weak legs won’t let him drive the ball to the right-centerfield gap like Jeter.
Am I worried he won’t give every ounce of his being to succeed? No way.
Am I worried he won’t succeed? Not in the least. He’ll give every ounce of what cancer treatment has left him to be the best he can be. If he falls, he’ll get up. If he gets out, he’ll try harder the next time.
And if you hit the ball to him, prepare to go to the dugout.
Now, if only the rain will hold off for them to play.
Can’t wait to see it. Update tomorrow.