Baseball was my life. Whenever I was on the field in my muddy cleats, about to throw a game winning pitch, I felt important and powerful, like I had control over something in my life. But the magic ended when I stepped off the field and reality hit. When I stepped off that field I knew I had no control over anything, not even my own life. When I changed out of my muddy cleats, I was reminded of my mom’s inevitable death. I was reminded that any day that I could lose my mom to cancer.

I still remember the day I lost her.

My team, the Anderson Alligators, had just won our game against the neighboring town, so I decided to run over to the hospital to tell her about our victory. The run wasn’t very long or difficult since our town, Anderson, Alabama, was small and only had one hospital. When I made it to her room, she was sleeping. I watched for a bit as her chest rose and descended in sync with the beeps of her heart monitor before waking her up.

“Mom,” I said as I lightly shook her shoulder, “wake up mom.” I watched as her eyes slowly fluttered open and she steadily propped herself up.

“How are you sweetie, you look awfully chipper considering the weather.” I looked out her hospital window and noticed the heavy rain outside.

“That’s odd, it wasn’t raining when I got here, but that’s besides the point. Remember that game I had today? We won!”

“That’s great, sweetie!” She exclaimed. My smile faded shortly after when she started coughing into her hand. She drew her hand away from her mouth to reveal what appeared to be blood. I looked over to her heart monitor and noticed the beeps became less and less frequent.

“Hey mom, are you okay?”

“Wesley Reed Cooper, no matter what happens to mommy I want you to keep chasing your dreams.”

I was seriously starting to worry about her. It was like she wasn’t registering anything I was saying and her eyes were starting to close, maybe for good.

“Wesley, Wesley look at me,” At this point she was squinting at the ceiling: “Wesley, I want you to not worry about mommy. I want you to look forward into the future. I want you to throw on your cleats and run towards a better tomorrow.” This didn’t sound like words of encouragement, it sounded like the dying words of a caring mother.

“Mom...Mom, this isn’t funny...Mom? …Mom!” I watched as her eyes shut. It was like she was permanently sealing herself off from the world. The only thing that shook me out of his daze was the long and unending beep of the heart monitor, and the long, flat line extending from one edge of the other. As the doctors started to flood into the room, I couldn’t stand to be in there any longer. I ran as far as my legs could take me, I sunk down to the ground and cried until my eyes were red and sore. As I cried, my tears mixed together with the rain into large drops of despair, and in that moment I came a realization; my mom was gone and she wasn’t coming back.

Ten years later, I still keep those cleats with me. Even though I quit baseball a long time ago, those cleats mean so much to me. They’re a symbol of hope; they’re a symbol to always look towards the future. When I feel like all hope is lost, I look towards those cleats and think about the words my deceased mother told me 10 years ago, and they give me motivation to push through the darkness into the light.

Sydney Nixon is a rising ninth grader who likes writing. Along with writing, she also enjoys volleyball, track and reading. She lives in Philadelphia with her mom and dog, but spends every other weekend with her step-mom and dad. Her favorite subject in school is math and my favorite show is Pretty Little Liars.