“Grief is like a sneaker wave,” a friend explained to me decades ago. “There you are, walking along the beach, minding your own business, and suddenly, without warning, WHAMO! you’re knocked flat on your keester.”

That pretty much sums it up all right.

It’s been a year tomorrow since Mom’s passing, and I still find myself crying at the drop of a… well, at the drop of almost anything.

Mom was a huge baseball fan, and I inherited the love of the game from her. We buried her on Opening Day, which I thought a fitting tribute, but I just couldn’t bear to watch a single game last year. It would have felt like some type of weird betrayal if I had gone to the ballpark without her.

So here we are, perched on the eve of another baseball season, and not even the thought of garlic fries can lure me to the field. I’m just not ready.

“There’s no timeline for grief,” another friend said last week. “Don’t let anybody tell you any differently—take all the time you need.”

When Mom and I watched the games on TV, we’d often call each other after a particularly interesting play, a bad call, a strike out, a fly ball caught on the run—we didn’t need much of a reason to touch base, pun intended—and it made it more fun to enjoy the game together.

“Memo to Melvin,” said Mom one day when I answered the phone between innings. “You do not tell the runner on first to steal when there’s already a man on second!”

Bob Melvin was not our favorite Mariners’ manager, and lasted only two years.

“We need another Lou Piniella!” Mom often said. “Good old ‘get out there and kick some dirt Lou!’ that’s what we need!”

But it’s not Lou Piniella that I need now; I need Mom. I need her to tell me it’s all right to follow the team again. I need some kind of sign that she’s still here with me, cheering them on and sharing my garlic fries.

Memo to Mother: Can you and Aunt Jo help get them to the playoffs this year?