Max was in preschool when he met Justine and her brother Lindsay. They became close friends and spent most of their time at our house or their apartment, where they lived with their dad, a single father.
Justine was an unusual little girl, with long blond bangs that hung over her eyes and a dreamy smile. She would often burst out laughing when I least expected it. She was less sensitive than her brother, but both of them screamed their heads off during long epic games of monopoly with Max, who likewise played with ferocious determination. Justine was a good mediator when Max and Lindsay had a spat.
When they moved back to Cleveland, their dad’s hometown, we lost touch for the most part. A few years ago, Justine came to visit me with her beautiful little daughter, who I longed to steal. Justine now played professional softball but somehow she was the same sweet dreamy girl I remembered.
Recently, after a mutual friend put us in touch via facebook. Justine sent me a message –
It is so good to reconnect with you. I miss max. I liked just knowing that one day we could see each other again. I remember being in 2nd grade and you telling us that we should get married one day. You would serve us a grilled cheese and then we would eat a flintstones vitamin. Being friends with max was some of my best childhood years.
Naturally I cried and cried. I saw that Justine had a website, and that was how I discovered that she recently made history by being the first woman to pitch batting practice to a Major League team. Not only that but she is also the first woman to coach a men’s professional baseball team.
I’m so proud of her achievements! I am also reminded that children come into the world with characteristics that can make them resilient or fragile, shy or outgoing, placid or temperamental. They will take their own path in the end, regardless of what you do or don’t do. It’s a mystery and a miracle.
I loved so many of Max’s friends and I’m grateful that he brought them into my life. Justine holds a special place in my heart. Those were some of my happiest years, too.
Justine and Max -