The Moose on the Mantle

In the baseball season of 2015, the Kansas City Royals were on fire. As summer turned to fall, the team headed to the World Series. Ryan has always been a huge fan, even in less than great years. There were years where the team’s efforts and talents were less than stellar, sometimes embarrassingly bad.

But that year was their year: 2015. I knew Ryan’s chance to see his team play in the Series was rare, so we bought him a ticket. It was October 2015 and I was eight months pregnant with Reece. I figured the man could have his fun because soon enough the fourth trimester, what we called “baby jail,” would require him to be home. A lot.

The Royals tore it up. One favorite player was Mike Moustakas, whom fans affectionately called “Moose.” For a baby born in the year Ryan’s team won the World Series, a moose was the perfect animal. We found one online and had it sent to the house.

Just weeks later, our World Series baby would be pronounced dead. I would birth him and rock him, and together we would tearfully choke out his first and last lullaby: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” This was a song we had sung to our older boys so they knew the words at their first baseball game. The day for Reece’s first baseball game would never, ever come.

Ryan was crushed by the fact he’d never be able to tell Reece that he was born the year the Royals won. In Reece’s memory, he got a tattoo of his name in Royals script.

As time has passed, I worry that Reece’s memory will fade. But many thoughtful people still send gifts. Nothing soothes my heart more than a friend sending a moose trinket with a note: “This made me think of Reece.”

A Christmas ornament from Grandpa Bill is one in a million.

A few weeks ago, I delivered a speech about the three parts to Mothering an Angel baby. My payment was a sweet little moose for the mantle.

Our family recently attended our first Royals game since Reece’s death. It was a joyful day. The 7th inning stretch brought us “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and some tears. We knew our little moose was with us, just as Mike Moustakas was on the field below us.

Many people know a moose holds special meaning for us, but they don’t know why. It all comes back to baseball, the Royals, that special year that was 2015.

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