I had an amazing experience today and you all are going to hear about it. The indulgence by you comes because it’s going to be a long entry tonight! 🙂
Most of the folks who visit this blog know that on Labor Day I started another blog here at MLBlogs. One to show support for Jon Lester and to promote cancer awareness. I got the idea when someone close to Jon emailed me to thank me for the kind words I wrote about Jon here when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. We started emailing back and forth, sharing pictures and stories and I told this person about my ‘sistahs weekend’ and how a bunch of us bought Lester t-shirts to wear to the game. This person casually mentioned that it would be amazing to see Fenway full of Lester shirts as a sign of support. I took that idea and promoted "Jon Lester Day" with the new blog. Lots of folks showed up at Fenway on September 10th in their Lester gear or with signs – and my friend Kelly and I were tossed from the park for holding up our signs between innings.
While I was organizing "Jon Lester Day" I decided, based on the response I got through email from folks, to offer a t-shirt. I knew it wouldn’t be ready for the ‘day’, but I thought folks might still like one. Since that time, the response has been overwhelming, in the most remarkable way. Many people have ordered shirts (and still continue to do so) and some just want to send an email wishing Jon well or sharing their own story of survival with him. I’ve read some heartbreaking things and I’m humbled that people have chosen to share their stories with me and Jon.
A few people who know Jon have emailed me about shirts, including Jon’s parents. I received a couple of very nice emails from them thanking me for my work as well as ordering shirts. Again, I’m humbled that they would take the time, especially with what they’re going through right now, to email me.
Based on the amount of shirts I ordered, I expected the shirts in today, MAYBE tomorrow…but, surprisingly, they showed up last night. Knowing that the Lesters were in town, but that they would be leaving for Washington soon, I brought the shirts they ordered with me to work today and emailed them that I would get the shirts to them anyway they liked.
Mrs. Lester emailed me back, saying they were tying up some loose ends in Boston today and would be happy to come by and pick up the shirts, to save me postage. That alone was overwhelming. She also added, "Jon would like to thank you". Now, reading that I suppose I didn’t actually comprehend it, because, much to my surprise, when Mr. & Mrs. Lester showed up at my office this afternoon, their son Jon was with them.
That deserves it’s own paragraph, I think.
Jon Lester and his parents took time out of their last day in Boston to visit me at my office to pick up their t-shirts and say ‘thank you’.
You all can imagine that not much makes me speechless…but this did (only briefly – I recovered in time to give them all the blow by blow account of Kelly and I getting booted from Fenway! I can now say that I made Jon Lester laugh!).
They stayed for a few minutes, ten at the most. They admired the Red Sox painting my boss had commissioned to commemorate the ’04 team. They spoke approvingly of the t-shirt. I got to ask Jon the question I wanted to ask, "how are you feeling?". (His response was "great!" He also mentioned how happy he was to be going home. He’s so young. I couldn’t get over his poise and overall attitude, but he’s still so young. I have no problem admitting that I cried when they left, thinking about what they’re all going through.)
They all said glowing things about the Red Sox fans, especially Jon’s mother. It’s nice to know that the fans are acting as I expected they would. 🙂
As they were getting ready to leave, I thanked them for taking the time to stop by (and for buying the t-shirts – I didn’t want to charge them but they insisted on paying as soon as they put the order in) and they, in turn, thanked me for doing what I’m doing with the shirts. Then Jon’s dad pulls a photo out of a folder he was holding (that I didn’t even notice he was holding until he did this) and it is a picture of Jon on the mound – and Jon inscribed it for me. I really was surprised and told them so. I didn’t expect ANYTHING from them. They’re dealing with enough to not have to worry about some fan. But both Jon and his parents insisted they wanted to thank ME.
I thanked them again and they were on the elevator and headed off. Before he got on the elevator, Jon turned to me and said, "See you next year!". I told him I hoped so and they were gone.
I’ve shared this story with friends and family and I’m getting a similar response. This isn’t something you hear every day. These are special people to go out of their way like this. Some folks think it also reflects well on Red Sox Nation. The Lesters went out of their way to reach out to one of the members of the Nation in a very personal way. How many other fan bases have stories like this?
The person who emailed me originally (who knows Jon) emailed me again today. I’m not comfortable sharing personal information I’ve received, but I am comfortable passing this along. Many of the guys on the team (including Tito) are in contact with Jon every day, whether by phone calls or text messages. Veterans, newer guys, they consider Jon part of their family. Hell, so do I. So does all of Red Sox Nation.
It’s something you can’t "get" unless you’re a part of it. I know how ego-maniacal that sounds, but it’s true. I feel blessed to be a part of this fan base, because it has brought me so much. I’ve made some of the best friends I’ve ever had thanks to the Red Sox and their fans (you all read me refer to them as my ‘sistahs’) and I’ve met some amazing people outside of my sistahs as well. It’s been a surreal yet truly wonderful last three years…and I’m very thankful. As I wrote to one of my ‘new ‘ friends tonight, I would rather the circumstances of Jon’s life were different and I had never met him, but because they aren’t and I can’t change that, I’m very thankful I got the chance to meet him. He truly is a remarkable guy (and his folks are pretty neat too!).
I’m still very emotional so I apologize if this rambles on. My strongest hope is that God hears all the prayers coming his way and watches over Jon and gets him and his family through this all right.
I didn’t go into this expecting anything. It isn’t what I’m about. Getting the autographed picture was remarkable enough, but more important to me was knowing that Jon (and his family) knows how we feel. Keeping with the ego-maniacal side of Red Sox Nation, we like our players to know that we’re behind them. (Hence the postcard showers you read about here.) So to have been able to look into Jon’s eyes and speak with him ‘like a real person’, to see that he knows how we feel about him, that meant a lot. I was able to tell him that so many of us are praying for him and thinking of him every day. You don’t often get to say something like that to someone face to face. I did – and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
Jon has a great attitude and I think that’s one of the things that will absolutely help get him through this. That and the obvious support he has from his family and loved ones. And now you can add the love, support and prayers of a Nation on top of that, Jon!
I hope God blesses Jon and his family and watches over them on their trip home tomorrow.