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Dodgers: Grieving a Season’s End

A dejected Clayton Kershaw in the Dodgers dugout.

The day after the last game of the season has been, for several years now, a day of mourning for many a Dodgers fan. It starts with that almost indescribable – yet all too familiar – feeling of waking up (if you’ve slept at all) and realizing that the wild ride you’ve been on for 6 + months has come to an all too abrupt stop. And it hurts…oh, how it hurts.

Having first cried over the outcome of a baseball at the tender age of 9, I’ve frequently asked myself over the years why I continue to put myself through the annual stress, agony, and ultimate pain of elimination, until I realized – it only hurts so much because I care so deeply for these players.

If I wasn’t so emotionally invested in this team, I wouldn’t revolve my life schedule around them during the spring/summer/fall, wouldn’t spend the money on subscriptions that I do, wouldn’t have taken the trips to LA that I’ve been fortunate enough to take. But, I do, and it’s that deep emotional connection that makes the “end of season” pain so intense…a risk, I’ve come to realize, that I’m more than willing to keep taking.

This summer, about halfway through this insanely entertaining season, I lost the person who meant the most to me in the world – a man over whom I’d shed countless tears over the years, but also happened to love with all of my heart. In the days and weeks following his death, I’d wake up with a feeling of emptiness not unlike the baseball gut punch (yet on a much deeper scale), and the world somehow seemed quieter without him in it. A bird who used to chirp incessantly outside my bedroom window went mysteriously quiet, there were suddenly no cars traveling down my street, and no lawn mowers hummed and buzzed in the summer morning air. I found myself experiencing levels of grief that I didn’t think possible…the product of having experienced such a great love, one that I’ll forever be grateful for and helped shape me into the person I am today.

“Grief is the last act of love we can give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was great love.”

I’m not here to compare the finality of death with the end of the baseball season, but instead to point out and help some of you understand that grief is natural and universal. It’s not pleasant, but the only way to avoid the pain that comes with “the end”, whatever that happens to look like, is to never let yourself love at all.

And when it comes to Dodgers baseball, where’s the fun in that? In fact, I feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t allowed themselves to love someone or something the way many of us love our Dodgers. I wrote a love letter to the organization this past summer, and will never tire of shouting to the hills that being a fan of this team is the aspect of my life I’m most proud of and grateful for. My love for this team has gotten me through some rough personal times, and it will be what continues to help me through the off-season – especially those empty, quiet moments – for years to come.

When it comes to matters of the heart – sports related or otherwise, my hope for you is that you dare to take that leap of faith and go all in on what you’re most passionate about. Allow yourself to be open to the hurt, for it’s the product of a great love. The end, when it does come, may be devastating, but if you’re lucky enough, there’ll soon be another spring, a new season…and just maybe, one more dance.

As the saying goes, nothing gold can stay, and nothing – not even a magical, historic baseball season – lasts forever, but I believe that great love does, if you let it.

The Dance: Grieving a Season’s End

Looking back
On the memory of
The dance we shared
Beneath the stars above
For a moment
All the world was right
How could I have known
That you’d ever say goodbye
And now
I’m glad I didn’t know
The way it all would end
The way it all would go
Our lives are better left to chance
I could have missed the pain
But I’d have had to miss the dance — from “The Dance” by Garth Brooks

Written by Gail Johnson

Biggest Dodgers fan north of the border, living about 3,500 miles from my beloved Boys In Blue, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. I think Dodger Stadium is the happiest place on Earth. I'll catch up on my sleep in the off-season.

4 Comments

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  1. You said it so eloquently. Thank you. This just might be the hardest Dodger loss I can remember in 50 years.

  2. You put it perfectly. Being a Dodgers fan for many years and seeing our 1981 and 1988 Series wins, these past years especially this special year where we’ve come close have hurt. I will still love these guys and hope they get another World Series win in my lifetime!

  3. For days and now weeks since it ended, I had been trying to understand why this loss felt so much like the death of a “loved one.” Readying this article made me realize that indeed it is like losing a “loved one.” We, as devoted Dodger fans, put everything into the season and this year’s team just seemed so much better to have it end so soon. Wait til next year continues on for us…

  4. Wonderful article….eloquent and poignant. I am so sorry for your loss. I have had a few in recent years myself–and some anticipated ones. Just in the last week, I had a dear friend I met on the Internet pass away from a terminal illness. Two work friends lost their mom and their aunt to cancer. These have put the Dodgers’ exit from the postseason into persepective. It still is disappointing, but we will continue to have them to get us through the bad days and the good. Take care yourself. And keep up your wonderful writing. Sending you a hug.

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