Back in March, the local news highlighted a devastating and tragic news story. Two people, a husband and wife, were jogging early on a Sunday morning and were randomly attacked by a group of what is suspected to be about 4 guys in a white van. The husband was brutally beaten to death and the wife was left clinging to her life on the other side of the path. By the time authorities came, the suspects had fled the scene. The man beaten was my old softball coach. Needless to say, this story hit me pretty hard as I couldn't even believe something like this could happen, especially to someone, both of them, that I knew so well growing up.
My mom and I attended a vigil walk, down the same path they took, at 5am the following Sunday. Most of those in attendance were neighbors of the victims, most not actually knowing these wonderful people at all. But they still came out and together we walked, somberly. It was a very sad morning.
Weeks passed and I searched endlessly on Google to find out how the wife was doing, even calling the local hospitals to try and send flowers; to offer my condolences. I came up empty. I searched for weeks, trying to find word of when my old softball coach would be remembered and laid to rest. I came up empty. Through the wonders of Facebook, I found my friend, their daughter, whom I had also played softball with, and reached out to her.
"How are you doing? How is your mom? How is your sister?"
Since not having heard or seen any updates on her mom, I didn't know what to think. Was she still in the hospital? Was she still alive?
Thankfully, my friend responded and filled me in. Her mom was ok, though still in the hospital. But she was going to make it. A rush of relief swept over me, and tears of joy and pain came to my eyes. I still couldn't believe that this had happened, but I was so thankful to hear that she had made it through.
Yesterday, I received an email from my friend, filling me in on the details for her father's service and memorial. She asked that we spread the word to anyone else who knew them and would want to attend. I fowarded the message to a dozen people, most of whom had been coached by this wonderful man.
My mom and I are going to the service. I've heard word of so many other people, old teammates and friends, who we haven't seen in years, who will also be in attendance. This man was more than a coach, he was a teacher and such an incredible influence. His military background may have made his words a little louder, and his shorts a little shorter (come on, you all know his shorts were sometimes a little on the short side!), but through his commanding voice, there was a man who truly cared about every girl he coached and wanted all of us to succeed.
The memorial service is going to be so emotional... I teared up just reading the details of it. But I know that every single person there was influenced by this man in one way or another and his service will truly pay homage to his life.