NOTE: This is a (slightly edited) blog post I wrote a couple days after my very last softball game, which happened on this day exactly ten years ago.
We've been together over thirty years. You've been my go-to-sport my whole adult life. Sure, we've had some disappointing times; there have been frustrations and losses. But there have also been many spectacular plays, hits and several championships. Through it all we always tried to keep a sense of perspective; our relationship, we both knew, would not last forever.
That day has arrived.
The time has come for me to say goodbye, to hang up my cleats for good, and retire my glove.
It's over, Softball. I'm sorry.
It's not you. It's me.
My knee is done. Think back, Softball, my love. Do you remember how my knees ached for two days after every game, especially the last few years? That was the sign I should have paid attention to; it was telling me the damage was growing each time I played. It wasn't just a sore joint or muscle. The pain was from the stretching and tearing of my Patellar Tendons.
Of course, you saw how my right knee disintegrated that day (July 17, 2011) as I trotted into second base for a stand-up double. You saw how my leg gave out and I fell like a bag of dusty rocks.
I thought someone threw a ball on the field and I had stepped on it. But no, it wasn't that at all.
What happened was that my Patellar tendon finally gave out; the preciously thin last remaining strand snapped, making my leg a useless appendage.
Gravity did the rest.
Do you remember after they carried me to the bench, how I was joking about falling down? And that I wasn't feeling any pain at all? And you remember how I looked down at my knee, and realized something was terribly wrong?
My kneecap wasn't in front of my knee where it was supposed to be. It was on top of my knee. The lower tendon had snapped and the upper tendon was pulling my kneecap up my leg.
You saw the damage; you've seen the results of the surgery; and you know how long I'll be stuck teaching myself how to walk again just so I can get back to normal (to the extent that "normal" even exists as a possibility). And that's just for one knee. You know as well as I that the left knee is potentially just as damaged and ready to snap as well.
For that reason, I can no longer risk time with you, Softball. I know it's hard to hear, but some diamonds aren't forever.
I'll always love you, of course. But we can no longer be together. The risk is simply too great.
I'm sure we can still be friends.