Sometimes it's hard being a Red Sox fan in Tuscaloosa, AL. But I manage to make the best of it. On October 17, 2013, it felt like the Red Sox for a brief period of time moved down here. Or my mental state was shaken such that it moved me up there. Either way, the Sox have yet again let me know that we are strong.
Back story a bit, my aunt had the worst immune system imaginable. We're talking about someone that contracted the Strep A virus. The flesh eating bacteria. But I'll be damned if she didn't come through it and didn't let anything hold her back with it. I was the only nephew and an only child. She devoted a lot of time to me and I'm forever grateful for it. She taught me a lot and if there's one thing she taught me it's to always be Strong, and Strong is what she was.
A few years ago she was diagnosed with lymphoma. Sox fans know what that is either through loved ones or seeing Jon Lester fight his own battle with it. We didn't know if she would make it through because her immune system was so weak. Chemo treatments were basically shutting her body down. But because she's an ass-kicker and fighter, she made it through that as well. Because sh'e Strong.
About a month ago her lymphoma came out of remission and she was right back in the hospital. This time the lymphoma was up to Stage IV. I know because I googled it when I wasn't getting answers and broke down on my fiance at her apartment. Immediate treatment option was more chemo and radiation. This is where the trouble began. See when a person with a terrible immune system starts receiving the radiation and chemo, the body starts shutting down.
October 17th, my other aunt called me at work and told me that we needed to go. Things weren't looking good. The hospital my aunt was at was in Birmingham, about an hour outside of Tuscaloosa. I dropped everything, picked up my fiance, and got her to drive us to the hospital. When we got there, she wasn't crashing anymore. Everything seemed normal as ever. After a few hours, we decided to come back home. Game 5 of the ALCS was that night so I was excited my aunt was ok, and excited to escape to Fenway for a few hours.
October 18th 3:30AM my phone starts ringing off the hook. Parents are in California for a business trip so I was left alone. My fiance is calling my cell phone like crazy. In my stuper I answered the phone and she said we needed to go again. Things this time, had taken the turn for the worst. I threw on the first set of clothes I could find. Oddly enough, those ended up being a pair of shorts and my red Nomar jersey. Did 80MPH the whole way to the hospital. Got back to the room finally from what seemed like an eternity. As soon as I walked in I saw my aunt intubated and her husband holding her hand. I looked up at him and will never forget the words he told me, "Cason they've done all they can do..." His voice trailed off. The realization of that hadn't set in yet because my aunt was Strong.
My aunt died that morning around 6:30. Two hours after I had gotten there. She was always so supportive of me no matter what. When I told her I wanted to work in baseball and hopefully one day could move to Boston, she supported me. Sent me links to job applications every once in a while if some advertisement with the Sox popped up. She was Strong. And she taught me to be Strong. She would have cheered these Red Sox because of me and because they were Strong. She would have cheered for the city of Boston even more because it was Strong. The cancer may have dictated her freedom, but it didn't dictate her spirit. Maybe that was what Papi really meant. I may not live there, but Boston is my city too. When it bleeds, I bleed.
Boston is my f**king city! And nobody's gonna dictate our spirit! Stay Strong, Boston.