Room 814

I’ve taken a hiatus from writing here, and I’ve let this site slowly slip away into the background of priority for me. I wanted to take some time to re-strategize and re-focus my efforts while also allowing my existing pieces their respective opportunities to breathe. The messages in anything I’ve ever written about here are built to last forever, with no sequential order or time stamped relevance. I’ve felt proud of letting my work here live on its own, consistently unsure of what would strike up the next post.

I’ve also accomplished what I set out to do, change lives and perspectives while breaking the same old social media mold. Creating my own “place where I can reach people who care about the real stuff that life offers, good, bad, or ugly” Which can be found word for word in the About tab).

But today, the story must continue. You see, I can’t bring myself to write of the successes in all of the detail and joy that I wish to. I don’t like to tell that part of my story because people can’t understand it. I try to never risk the chance to come off as braggadocios – which is why I haven’t felt the need to write. I have recently found myself in a place of peace, accomplishing goals, working on myself, building relationships, and being proud of seeing my visions come to life. If these successes continue to mount into the grand pictures that I continue to see, then I promise to tell all of these stories chapter by chapter in my own book. But we aren’t there yet. Today is not that day.

Today, I type to you with one hand. One finger, rather. My right thumb. As this is the first post ever entirely written from my phone, which may explain any typos or mishaps. To many, I’m sure this comes as my most predictable post of all time. And to the others, let me tell you why.

This previous weekend opened up the conference play portion of our baseball season, which means that every weekend from here on out comes against a CAA opponent. This is the portion of the schedule that allows your team to be one of six to compete in the CAA conference tournament in late May, giving us roster a glimpse of hope to reach the NCAA post season. In simple terms – every game matters. We welcomed Delaware to Towson last weekend, losing game one on Friday at home. We still had a game each on Saturday and Sunday, both essentially being must win.

Saturday brought another close battle which ultimately put us down 2-0 by the top of the 5th inning. A soft line drive is hit towards left field – my way – as I start to track in on it. As it reaches its apex, I realize I’m going to have to leave my feet in some way to catch this ball. As it begins its descent, I bound into full extension realizing that the ball has a little bit more carry on it than I anticipated. No problem, I bring the glove in towards my body ever so slightly, and make the catch just before hitting the ground.

When my glove hits the ground, my body continues its momentum, rolling over my left arm and snap.

Snap? I think I just sprained my wrist. I’m out 1-2 weeks I’d bet. Is the ball still in my glove? Did they say I caught it? The play is still going on. I look up from the ground trying to figure out where the ball is, trying to summon somebody to come look at me, and reaching for wherever on my arm I just heard that noise come from. That’s not attached. That doesn’t feel right. It’s broken, I now realize. It’s broken, I now say, over and over waiting for someone to hear me and agree while magically taking the pain away.

Our trainer Jimmy Lee breaks down from his sprint and takes a knee next to me. I am only listening at this point, with my right hand over my face shielding my eyes from the sun and whatever is going on around me. At a short glance, he looks up at his assistant and says simply, “Run. Go get the air cast.” To which my brain can only muster so many thoughts, and my mouth can only muster so many words; particularly why, God, why?

I hadn’t found tears yet, just confusion and dark clouds of assumption feeding into my complete disinterest in seeing anything except for my own palm over my eyes. The commotion of my thoughts are interrupted by a teammate, who took a knee beside me to tell me that campus has stopped. He’s right. There isn’t a sound to be heard within miles. As another teammate or two mosey over in disbelief, their personal words to me strike up the emotion.

I don’t know how long I was down for, but it wasn’t up to me. “Take your time, we have nowhere to be,” I’m told. The time passes quickly and slowly at the same time. The words of my thoughts come together to start to form sentences. I can’t help but wonder if this is where the baseball portion of the story ends. I have no idea how to mitigate this rush of physical pain. As I write this, I now recall the four words I mustered to sum it all up; “I feel so helpless.” We wait for a siren of an ambulance to pierce the nothingness in the air. I can feel a crowd of energy around me without an inclination about what to say.

As the sirens approach and halt, I feel a new hand on my right leg with an energy that feels like an EMT. I peek under my hand to see my Uncle Brian, who had been in attendance. My parents were out of town, and this had been the first game all year they didn’t make. Good, I thought, a familiar face. Accompanied by another, my cousin Alex. Accompanied then by two more, the EMTs.

I sit up with their help, wait a few moments, and then rise to my feet. This is where the emotion strikes. The silence is shattered with cheers and praises that hit my ears with a one way ticket to my heart. As I sit in the stretcher I’m faced with nine or ten peers, their competitive fires dimmed by wet eyes. I get rolled in past teammates, coaches, families, fans, and the curious student on their mid afternoon stroll through campus. I shake hands and wave my goodbyes in tears of course, not of physical pain, but of yearning. Yearning to make sure everyone knows I’m going to be okay.

My cousin Alex hands me his phone just before entering the ambulance so I can see my family on FaceTime from visiting my brother South Carolina. The very last thing I ever would want is to take those moments from them, which is why I swore it’d be ok even though none of my facial expressions could express that.

The way time moves from here on out is confusing. The routine is clear. Get to the ER, get X-Rays, send them to team doctors, figure out the verdict, get the arm set in a splint and go home. The rest is left to be determined. Every task got accomplished at its own pace with an abundance of phone calls and cross checks, and without enough pain medication.

My phone is going ballistic with teammates and family checking in. It’d remain that way for the next 48 hours almost nonstop. Jimmy is in and out of the curtains trying to arrange a surgery, which successfully got scheduled for the next day. Uncle Brian is keeping the family in the loop, updating as every detail falls into place. He’s also providing some comedic relief while trying to gauge when my sense of humor would be back. My shirts get cut off, the X-rays get taken, and they put that sucker back into normal-ish position and wrap me up.

I’ll be spending the night at my Aunt Kim and Uncle Brian’s home, ten doors down from our childhood home in Cockeysville. I was discharged from the ER with no painkillers, awaiting further detail on what surgery would look like the next day. My parents will begin the trek back from South Carolina at around 1am Sunday morning to get back on time.

This is where the silver linings become apparent. This is where I begin to find peace again. This is what family is all about. I was a kid in this very home witnessing my cousin do what I dreamed of, spending time with his teammates in these same walls hoping to be one of them. When some of my teammates and head coach arrived to visit later that evening, it gave that same nostalgic energy.

The first wave of people checking in were teammates, friends, and family… all of which I consider to be the latter. As word began to spread, I heard from more people than I ever would’ve imagined. Their words of hope and encouragement and faith carrying tremendous weight. I began to wonder, why does it take something like this?

Sleep was impossible that night, and I spent the whole morning fasting for the operation, wanting so badly to just be put under already. My parents have made it back with no sleep either, taking me into the ER for PreOp check ins. Surgery is delayed as expected, so I pull out my phone to watch my boys try to salvage a series on Sunday. My roommate Jack is wearing a different number, that much is clear, but the quality of the stream blurs out the back of the jersey. Not even a minute later, my dad gets a text of a picture of Jack donning my 26 jersey, which immediately made all of our eyes a little sweaty. I’m checking into the game as much as I can, still waiting to be called in.

We are told we’ll be moving, not into surgery, but into a room up on the 8th floor. Room 814. Now I don’t know if you are into omens or signs or whatever, but I am, because stories like these being riddled with coincidence are no coincidences to me. 8 and 14 are the only other two numbers I’ve ever worn.

Surgery goes well, I feel relieved but they want to keep me overnight. I’ll be staying in good ole 814 while learning what recovery is going to look like one task at a time. As Jack’s gesture from the game finds its way through social media, word continues to spread. The ‘surgery’ word is out there for all to see, welcoming curious inquisitions and well wishes into my inboxes. I decided to post the X-ray so I didn’t have so many questions to answer, not for any sympathy or pity. I made it through surgery, the worst of the pain is behind us, let’s move forward.

That’s how I want to approach all of this. I don’t want the attention on myself to the point of fishing for sympathy. I rather want you all to know that I hear you. Loud and clear. I cannot put into words the support and love and belief that I have felt from a spectrum of people that I would’ve never expected to hear from. I am ever so thankful. That is my message here. Like I said in my opening, every one of these posts has a message built to last a lifetime. I have been taken aback by the reaction to this, it has given me a feeling of pride in what I have done as a human being. I have set lofty goals for myself to inject positivity and change into the lives of around me, but there’s never an indicated benchmark to measure that. I’ve seen it now. It’s overwhelming.

But, as I said a few paragraphs ago, why now? Why is this what it takes? These questions have become my mission. I have seen ever so clearly what family means through this. This has also confirmed to me that family stretches well beyond the criteria of blood DNA. I have seen how much people need each other. I have felt how much words can heal. Now, it’s my goal to give that to people no matter the circumstances, because none of us hear it enough. I’ve been reconnected with former pillars in my life that have faded away. In this newfound free time, it’s time to go see these people again. It’s time to tell them that I love them, share stories, and allow them to know that we are proud of each other. If you feel like this is you, then reach out and let’s make good happen.

I was back at the field on Tuesday, trying to shake my teammates of their stunned state to share laughs and stories and perspectives about what just happened to us all. I want to continue to be with them both home and away because through this I have a clearer picture of what I am viewed as through the teammate scope. Simply, we all need each other, and I plan on executing my new role for all of them.

That is where my head resides through all of this. Yes, I will be okay. It will not be a quick and easy road back, and there will not be shortcuts, but I can only take this one task at a time. I’ll be doing my best to enjoy the perspectives of this journey with a plethora of various companions. I have no idea what the details of the recovery timeline look like. In this moment of both recollection and protection, I find all 8 pieces of the Super 8 glaring at me. That’s what this is all about.

I am especially thankful for all of those who transcended their usual roles in my life to care for me this past weekend. You are all superstars.

Through it all, I am blessed and loved – and so are you. Don’t take anything for granted. We make plans and God laughs.

Talk soon,

Bryce

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