I didn’t know Jose Fernandez.
We didn’t grow up together. We aren’t from the same hometown. We never crossed paths on the playground or at the local ice cream shop. Josh didn’t play against him in the minor leagues, and he never came over to our house for a Christmas party. He was just another pitcher, living his life in the lights and the glory of a ballpark.
So when I woke up on the morning of his passing, I wasn’t hurled out of my bed with grief and despair. My stomach didn’t lurk as I saw all of the Twitter posts.
It wasn’t until I saw his face, remembered exactly why his name sounded so familiar. It wasn’t until I saw that incredibly, contagious smile, for me to finally have emotion.
Even if you didn’t know him during his life, how is it possible not to love him after his death? I loved that every single picture that was posted of him was happy. He was smiling. Laughing. Joking around. Hugging a friend. Teasing a teammate. Changing a child’s life. What a beautiful way to be remembered; that even on a stage as big and stressful as the one he performs on nightly; life is beautiful, and enjoying it was imperative to him. What a legacy to leave behind, there is no doubt in any fans mind that Jose lived a happy life and found joy in almost everything.
The night after we found out about Jose, Josh and I were relaxing in our San Francisco apartment. Josh was reeling after his last outing. I could see his mind swarming with defeat; why did I give up that hit? What happened to me? Why am I struggling with my command? I was doing so well, and now?
I leaned over, obviously noticing how upset and disappointed he was in himself. “Josh, besides maybe a handful of awful people on Twitter, you’re the only one beating yourself up about this, everyone has bad days at work.”
He didn’t say anything. That’s his tell-tale sign that he would rather just be left alone and be mad at himself.
I turned over, and opened up my book, noticeably giving him his space and just gently said under my breath, “Imagine something tragic happened to you tomorrow, do you think the media would be able to find ONE picture of you smiling while playing this game? You need to be more like Jose.”
He smiled at me. Check.
Perspective is a hard thing to come by. You can be so fogged by your own grief, that you can't see the sun anymore. Sometimes getting out of your own way is a matter of somebody making you.
If we can learn anything from Jose’s tragedy, it needs to be about perspective. This life is such a precious entity, and it is time we start respecting exactly why we are here. Wins and losses, strike outs and walks; all so inconsequential to the fact that every single day you can get up and do whatever you want…because you are alive.
A healthy shot of perspective, that’s all anyone ever needs.
That, and maybe a smile.