Eric Leslie writes an open letter to his 6 year-old self about dreaming big, heart disease, and throwing the first pitch at a Pirates game.
Dear six-year-old me,
It’s me! It’s, well, you. I’m 33-year-old you. I guess I should lead with that: you get to be 33, at least. Hopefully much older! I know that’s kind of a big point of uncertainty for you right now. Heart disease is scary and I won’t lie to you, it doesn’t stop being scary. But trust me, it works out okay.
Six-year-old me, we need to have a talk. You know how you’re about to do that Make-A-Wish thing that you’re so excited about? (Don’t worry, it’s still gonna happen, and I still want you to be excited about it. Baseball! Yay!)
So the Make-A-Wish Foundation shut down practically the whole city of San Francisco for him. He got to ride around in the Batmobile, chase bad guys, and was given the key to the city. The President even made a video for him. He’s a superhero!
I look at that now and throwing out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game just seems like thinking a little small, you know? Dream bigger, six-year-old me!
But I remember being your age. Adults always say that, but I quite literally remember being your age. I get it. I remember not being able to run as fast or throw as well as the other kids. I remember the Pirates being a baseball team people still cared about, and while I hate to tell you that you won’t get to see them win a World Series by age 33, they’re gonna make it to the National League Championships three years in a row, and that will be pretty exciting. (No, I’m not going to tell you which three years! Spoilers!)
Oh, wait — spoilers mean nothing to you yet. Never mind.
I remember that for you, the Pirates might as well be superheroes. I remember you knew all their stats, and watched or listened to every game. I know that meeting Bobby Bonilla and Barry Bonds and Andy Van Slyke and R.J. Reynolds and Bob Walk and Jim Leyland — I haven’t thought about those names in 20 years, but sitting in that dugout with them is going to be amazing for you. You’re going to love it.
You’ll get to hang out with the Pirate Parrot, which will be part of a long string of awkward encounters you’ll have with people wearing animal suits later in life. (Don’t ask.)
And walking out on that field, throwing a ball to Mike LaValliere, and having a whole stadium of people cheer for you — it’s gonna be a hell of a day.
You’re never going to be the pitcher in Little League, but for one moment, you ARE going to be the pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates. And you and your parents are going to remember that day for a long, long time.
Your Mom and Dad will hang pictures of you with those superheroes on the wall and every day when you go downstairs — your first day of high school, your first date, the day you get ready to go away to college — they’ll be there, saying:
I Did This. This Was Me.
So forget what I said before about thinking small. (You aren’t going to find out how awesome Batman is for another 5 or 6 years anyhow, when Bruce Timm and Paul Dini make the best animated series of your youth.) Then, later, Pittsburgh actually ends up literally BEING Gotham city — but really, that movie ends up being the worst of the trilogy and — oh, never mind.
The point is, you made the right choice — and I’d make it again in an instant. You are dreaming big — your dream — and because there were people who helped those dreams come true, you’re still going to be here coming up with new dreams 27 years later.
So here’s what I want you to do: Have a great time. Say “thank you” to the Make-A-Wish people. Hug them really hard, and smile a lot for them. Because they’re doing incredibly important work, and they need to keep doing it so that someday you can watch Miles Scott in California live his dream and be Batkid for a day. They streamed it live over the Internet.
Oh man, I forgot. The Internet! You really DO have so much to look forward to.
By Eric Leslie
Originally appeared at xoJane
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Photo of Pirate Parrot By brunkfordbraun on Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons.