Caesar was on the verge of tasting a dream. The smell of sweat and dirt was the smell of success. He knew happiness awaited him. His discipline and hard work was paying off. He followed his heart and stayed away from selfish pursuits. Now he was getting what he deserved. He was getting a million dollar contract.
Unfortunately, his grandmother, Julia, was diagnosed with cancer, and she even fell into depression. He knew life was slipping away every second. He knew the money would help with her treatment and provide better care then what she was receiving. He often thought how to pay back his grandmother for everything she sacrificed for him. Now he had a chance.
On Sunday morning, he picked up the phone and called his grandmother. He needed to choose careful words or she would fall deeper into depression. After several rings, his uncle picked up the phone. He quickly gave the phone to Julia, and she began to talk to him in Spanish. Caesar asked her about his younger brother. Although she was fighting cancer, she made it seem like everything was normal.
After he hung up, he felt better about himself. In his mind, he was doing the right thing. His guilt was slowly removed. This was one of the reasons he called. She always had a way of easing the tension even when it seemed unbearable. Her voice was soft, and her words were seasoned with grace.
His alarm began to buzz. After clicking it violently, he remembered to check his iPhone. He was waiting for a response from Sarah, his fiancée. His teammates always joked about their relationship. Although they were engaged, he found himself agreeing with them. This lead to more arguments between him and Sarah.
Recently, he got in the habit of texting her instead of calling, especially when it came to serious talks. He knew texting would help her cool off. The bottom line, he just got tired of hearing her complain about him being away. But he knew how to justify himself. He even found pleasure in making excuses to not call her.
Unfortunately, his plans to marry Sarah seemed exhausted. He told her in a text message that his priorities changed. Now he needed to care for his family. He told Sarah he wanted to pay his grandmother’s hospital bills and help with his younger brother. She just didn’t understand his life. Coming from nothing and becoming something. This dream was meant to happen, so he could help his grandmother.
Sarah, on the other hand, was the only child to a father who owned a business and a mother who worked as a psychologist. In fact, Caesar once said that she cared too much about what her parents thought. In Caesar’s mind, he could never relate to her family. He did not see the value in education like her family. He thought school was to keep everyone busy, so if they were less talented at other things like sports then they wouldn’t become so bored.
Nonetheless, she was everything to him. He even promised to marry her after he signed a major league contract. She belived him, but deep down she wished he attended school and found a normal job. Playing baseball never seemed like a reasonable job for a husband. She always told him it would ruin their relationship in the long run.
If it was not for Caesar’s impeccable tenacity to justify himself, she probably would have left him when he started his first season in the minor leagues. However, she stayed with him for almost three years. Now he was the one thinking of leaving her. Even though he never said those words in his text message, she knew it was exactly what he wanted when he left to Los Angeles.
A life of playing baseball all year and getting a fat paycheck to do whatever he wanted. She knew he wanted to leave her, but something made Sarah continue to call him after his games. Maybe her hope for marriage helped her cope with the hideous feeling of isolation.
When it came to his grandmother’s cancer she was speechless. She didn’t know how to react. She never experienced serious sickness or death from anyone in her family. She knew his mother died at a young age, and his father turned to the bottle. This was serious. His grandmother was always the leader. He mimicked everything she did.
She even felt jealous at times knowing he listened to his grandmother more than her. The news of her sickness did change Sarah’s attitude towards his grandmother. She felt sympathy and visited her once in a while just to keep her and Caesar’s brother company.
Although she was there for Caesar’s family, he knew he could not follow though with his promise. He wanted to help his grandmother and family on his own. She needed to wait or just completely forget about him. He felt like he had no other options.
The next morning he could barely get up from his hotel bed. His team just finished a three game series, and currently they were on the road. Caesar was thoroughly exhausted, but he kept pushing on. It was not good to take a break. The next day he got the deal he was waiting for. He was offered a big league contract. In the coming days he would finalize it.
His dream was taking shape, and it was only a matter of time that he would stand on a multi-million dollar stadium signing autographs. On second thought he was not too concerned about autographs, but definitely he would play on expensive turf. This was his new dream. This was everything he wanted!
Caesar immediately called home and his younger brother answered.
“Hey Carlitos, where’s nana I got some amazing news!”
“Uncle took her to the hospital,” he replied with a timid voice. “She’s looking bad.”
Caesar responded, “Well, when she gets back tell her I called, and I wanted to tell her some great news. Okay?”
Something did not register in Caesar’s mind. He could not fathom his grandmother being on the edge of death. Reluctantly, he called Sarah to tell her the news, but she had news for him. His grandmother was no longer battling cancer. She was dead.
Caesar became overwhelmed. He immediately hit the end button on his phone.
A week later on the day of grandmother Julia’s funeral, Caesar was a no show. Sarah didn’t receive a text or phone call either. The family was a bit worried about him, but they continued with the funeral schedule.
Sarah showed up to the funeral service and sat in the back of the church building. After the service the family and friends headed to the grave site. It seem like the longest day for her.
At the burial, to everyone’s surprise Caesar arrived. He wore a regular shirt and some baseball shorts. He went directly to his brother and uncle and hugged them. Sarah was watching him but tried not to make eye contact. Finally, she decided it was best to leave.
On her way to her car, Caesar walked in front of the car door.
“I didn’t sign it,” he said with a raspy voice.
Looking straight at him like she didn’t hear him, she said, “I don’t know if I’m going to see you again. I’m sorry about nana, but here I just can’t do this anymore. I’m so sorry”
With a shaky hand, she stuck out her engagement ring.
He looked at the ring and nodded, “I love you Sarah, and it doesn’t take a ring to prove that. You were right. I don’t need baseball. I don’t need a dream, because I have you. Please, don’t leave me Sarah?”
After she wiped the tears from her eyes, she hugged him and whispered in his ear, “I love you too that’s why I’m leaving. Right now you need to take care of your brother.”
She quickly got in her car and drove off leaving the ring in his hand. He felt devastated again.
Six months later, Caesar was at his old house with his brother and uncle. He was working at a local sports factory making athletic shoes. His income along with the uncle helped pay the mortgage and other needs for the three of them.
Nobody really knew why Caesar quit baseball. The story changed every month. He told some people that he was let go. He told others he was injured. The only person that knew the truth was Sarah.
She eventually showed up to his house on a Sunday morning. His brother ran inside and pointed outside without saying anything. He got up from the kitchen table and walked towards his front yard with suspicion.
“Did I come at a good time,” she said with a big smile.
“Well, you should know there’s never a right time,” he replied. “Look at me I waited for the big leagues, and it cost me my nana and my woman.”
She looked down and said, “Do you still feel that way?”
“Yes, sometimes your dreams get in the way of life. Sometimes you just gotta give up your dreams to love those that mean everything to you.”
She laughed, “You’re right. I just quit my job at finance. It took way too much of my time.”
From inside the house Caesar’s brother peeked out the window. The only thing he saw was a lot of hugging, tears and more hugging.
Caesar and Sarah decided to get married the next day.
Written by Mark B.B. Aguirre