Oh Lord how you scared me! I gave you my most precious gift so that you could show her what you had to offer. I was worried she would get hurt under your watch, so you let me hold her hand and guide her while she got to know you, but as suspected she took to you like a duck to water. It wasn't long until you pried her from my grip and she ran to you without a single glance back. Which, was brilliant on your part to make sure she looked at you so she wouldn't see the fear written all over my face.
You encouraged her and you kept her humble while at the same time teaching her that a unit of measurement is a team and not a batting average. You surrounded her with likeminded individuals and you forced them to work hard or suffer the consequences of mediocracy. All the while I worried that you were just too tough on my baby girl, but you knew all along she would be tougher than me and just to prove it you said, "Hey Jenn, how about hanging with me behind the plate?"
Oh how my worries doubled as I watched her dance with batters swinging aluminum bats in her direction all the while trying to handle balls curving, rising and dropping in the strike zone. Once again, you were spot on with your assessment. She fearlessly owned home plate, carved her initials there and made sure that opponents knew that to cross home plate would require a heavy toll.
You didn't stop there, the lessons continued. You made her a leader, a cheerleader, a therapist, a teammate, a friend, a competitor and those are only the changes on the surface. You etched deep into her soul the will to achieve, the desire to continue to learn not only about the game, but about the core of the athlete and what propels them to continue their drive towards perfection. You honed her mind to see beyond the pain and fear and to focus only on the desired outcome.
Softball, I gave you a small, fragile, wisp of a girl and you returned to me a complete person. One that understands unity, strength from hard work, and self-discipline.
Softball, I must confess, while you suffered my fears, deep down I knew you would look after the girl and return to me an amazingly strong woman and I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart. I owe you.
You are the most diverse, surprising, rich, heartbreaking relationship I've ever had. It's hard to put into words the spectrum of a relationship that spans over 27 years and has produced such growth that runs deep enough it's hard to separate where I, Jenn Holt, end and where Softball begins. What a beautiful thought - a relationship that is literally part of my DNA. Not something I was born with, but something that evolved to be forever rooted in my character.
The most incredible thing about you, Softball, is that your face is ever changing. When we first met you were bubbly and friendly. You took pity on me and allowed me to pick flowers in the outfield when I was supposed to be "playing" defense. As we grew older we started to change and became stronger, taller and more determined. The girls you surrounded me with were passionate, infectious and driven. They thought you were as cool as I did! The pulse of these young women when in sync was powerful beyond measure. To know the feeling of being a part of something great and watching each teammate take pride in their role to achieve heights we never considered independently possible was true harmony. What a wonderful life lesson you've given me; the understanding of selflessness. The knowledge that being a part of something bigger than myself is a force that has the ability to reach heights never thought imagined from my singular perspective.
Softball, these core values that you have instilled in me is something you can't take back. I'm forever impacted by our relationship and now realize you continue to grow with me. I was fearful that our last collegiate game meant that our relationship would cease to grow and soon become a distant memory. I'm humbled and grateful that this is not the case. You continue to stick with me. You're in my work ethic. You're in my drive to be a part of something bigger than myself at work, in my marriage, with my friendships. You are part of my foundation that gives me fuel to be courageous with life and continue to dream big and not be deterred by the fear of failure. Imagine that... viewing failure as a gift. What a concept.
Softball, you are one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and I'm forever grateful that you've revealed yourself in so many aspects of my life. I feel fortunate that you picked me 27 years ago. That you decided to invest in me and provide me opportunities to be surrounded with like minded people who wanted to compete and challenge themselves on a daily basis.
I realize now, that you were always a part of my life fabric. Our journey did not end just because we left the ball field. You have woven yourself into my identity and I'm proud to know you and fortunate that you took the time to know me. May we continue to grow and impact others to be their best self and may these young women reading this letter know you the way I know you.