Thank you all for coming. I want to pass along a message from Marty. He wants to tell you not to worry. He promises we’ll all be out of here in time to watch Luis Severino beat the Orioles tonight.
As you can imagine, I am having trouble coming to terms with all this. There are so many mixed emotions. Am I sad? Am I relieved?
You never want someone you love to die, but you also never want someone you love to suffer. So, in large part, I should be feeling RELIEF. For him, for us. He is not suffering any more. When I think about seeing him last month, and even over the past 8-10 years, I can try to convince myself not to be sad, because, while he showed incredible strength battling through each successive challenge, no person should have to go through what he did. The perpetual hospital visits. Losing his mobility. Losing his eyesight. NINE years on dialysis, waiting for a kidney that would never come. And the final indignity of the trach. ENOUGH. Enough.
I should be relieved that he is no longer suffering. So why am I still sad?
Mostly because, when I think of Marty, I only see the earlier years. And I am sad about what could have been, if only. What never was again.
I am sad because I remember the always-happy kid I used to play ball with. Yes, he was scrawny, and yes I usually let him win, but those few times when I’d fire a Spalding up against the wall and he managed to swing and send the ball soaring, we would both celebrate each imaginary home run.
I remember the absolute joy in his face running around the bases and sliding into home at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown when he was only about 9 or 10. I am sad that we bought him tickets to a Mets game for his 50th birthday, and he couldn’t go. We never did again.
I remember him getting his first car – it was 1986 – and the first thing he said to me was, “Keep your hands off the car.” I was writing songs back then and I turned that line into one. He loved that I wrote a song for him and he kept playing it over and over. Part of the chorus went:
Keep your hands off the car, keep your hands off the car,
Mom, you may like it a lot, but you can’t take it to shop, keep your hands off the car.
Robin, for a car to learn on, go to Susan and Ron, keep your hands off the car. (She was 14)
Dad, I gotta be frank, unless you fill up the tank, Keep your hands off the car.
He said he is leaving me his baseball card collection, but I have no room in my house for all those huge tubs that are sitting in my parents’ basement. Seriously, there has to be at least 10 or 12 huge tubs. Tens of thousands of cards. It might be hundreds of thousands.
I am sad that his aides, especially Wesley, who has been with him 24/7 over the past 8 1/2 years and was a source of constant support and comfort… I am sad that Wesley never got to see him as how I best remember him. How I only want to remember him.
I am sad now because he tried so hard for so long not to define himself by his disability, but in the end, he could not escape it. I am sad that we promised him that it was his decision about whether to keep fighting, but when he told us he was done, we found it tough to let him go.
But he needed to go. He needed relief. And now he has it. So… despite all the fond memories, we have to be grateful he is now at peace.