It is a book consisting of chapters, each ending with some sort of emotion, each beginning with a sense of uncertainty about what comes next.
It is the people that come into it, some staying if you are lucky or fated to have them remain.
It is the many hats you wear, sometimes quite literally, as in the case of Carlos Beltran.
It is the body you are born with, the one that is always changing, the one that aches and ails and ages no matter what you do to stop it, the one that ends and disappears.
Imagine rising to the top of your field, one of the greatest to ever do what you do, having to fight off decline until you can no longer fight. At some point, a life ceases to be about beginnings and becomes about endings. Memories are mere attempts to relive what has already ended. But we are blessed to have them.
Imagine a kid in Puerto Rico hitting bottlecaps with a stick, a life not much more than dreams of future greatness. Imagine the joy of a new beginning, a lucid dream, the start of a new chapter with a brand new Major League uniform and a life defined by what it could be. Imagine standing before tens of thousands of people, bat in hand, ready for your first chance to star in that dream.
The hits came, the homers, the stolen bases, the All Star games, the changing uniforms and failed postseasons and the fading star, and then, that one glorious feeling, the purpose of all of this, a World Series Championship, all subchapters in a life.
What is a life?
It is all of those joys and those sorrows and this one, the end of another chapter, a long, prosperous one. It is all the people, the teammates and the fans with all the different hats, and me, too, one who had the good fortune to watch the entirety of a Hall of Fame career, the one who for some reason at this very moment in this life finds herself overcome by emotion in coming to the end of the chapter of a life not mine, if only because it is not a part of a life, but of all life.
Next chapter: Cooperstown. But what hat will he wear?