My Precious Birthday Gift From Heaven

17 Aug
It had been six long months since Jeff last spoke to me in that terrible dream, the one in which he told me, “I can do whatever I want- it’s my choice.”  (see “Still Making His Presence Known”, February 18, 2011).  Since then, and until this past weekend, there had been no further contact of any kind. 
But when he decided it was time to connect with me again, on this past Saturday, August 13th, one day after my birthday and one day before Brett’s, it was about a much more pleasant topic- our beloved New York Yankees.   
On Saturday, I took Drew, Brett, and Brett’s friend Nate to the game against the Rays to celebrate our birthdays.  It was awesome in every way.  We even got to see a special pre-game ceremony in honor of Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit, in which Jeter and his family were presented with gifts from Hal Steinbrenner and his wife, as well as from Mariano Rivera on behalf of all his teammates.  It was heart warming.  It got even better when the Bombers took an early 2-0 lead and Phil Hughes was pitching great. 
In the fifth inning, Curtis Granderson led off with a home run to make it 3-0 Yankees.  Then, Mark Texiera flied out, and Robinson Cano doubled.  The Rays promptly changed pitchers, bringing in Brandon Gomes.  Gomes walked Nick Swisher.  Runners were now on first and second with one out. 
As the next hitter, Eric Chavez, strode to the plate, it happened- Jeff’s voice inside my right ear.  I froze.  “Hey Dad, Chavez is going to walk, and then Jorgie’s gonna juice one- a grand slam.”  He was referring to Jorge Posada.  His voice sounded exactly the same.  It was strong, happy, and even a bit mischievous.   
I immediately told Drew and Brett what was about to happen.  They wore expressions that said something to the effect of “hey, that would be cool”, but they probably thought there was zero chance… 
That is, until Eric Chavez walked on four pitches.  Holy shit.   
The bases were loaded. 
I felt every muscle in my body tense as Posada walked to the plate.  Now understand this- Posada had not played in a week, having been benched by Joe Girardi because he was hitting so poorly.  He was a few days away from his 40th birthday, over the hill in the opinion of many, and the idea of him hitting a grand slam home run at that moment was as improbable as it gets.  Posads had also not hit a home run since June 23rd, nearly two months before. I was nervous, and my breathing was labored. 
Ball one. 
Ball two. 
When Posada unleashed his fury on the third pitch, the ball soared high and deep, and there was never a doubt that it was gone.  With the ball still in the air on its journey to the right field seats, Drew and Brett threw their arms around me, and we jumped up and down, screaming like maniacs.   The crowd went berserk, and they demanded that Jorge come out for a curtain call.  When he finally emerged from the dugout to wave to the crowd, perhaps his wave was also directed far above the stadium to one of his biggest fans. 
As a loving birthday gift in recognition of the countless Yankees moments we shared together over two decades, my son in Heaven had told me exactly what BOTH Chavez and Posada would do in their upcoming at bats.  Believe me, I know how freaky it all sounds, but thankfully Drew and Brett are my witnesses.   I told them everything before it happened.    
And how fascinating it was to find out afterward that Jeff’s dear friend AB was at the game with his Duke friends who Jeff also knew well and loved to hang out with.  It now seems clear that he had deliberately chosen this venue and this day, the one day between Brett’s and my birthdays, to reconnect and give me the gift of hearing his voice again.  Given his deep love of family and friends, I guess this is not so surprising.  The greatest gift of all, though, is now knowing one thing with absolute certainty: 
The kid is all right. 
My precious son is ok. 
-Rich Klein

One Response to “My Precious Birthday Gift From Heaven”

  1. Brooke August 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    This is unbelievable, Mr. Klein!!!

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