Jan Haag teaches journalism and creative writing at Sacramento City College where she is the chair of the journalism department and advises student publications. She is the author of Companion Spirit, a collection of poems about her husband’s death at the age of 48, published by Amherst Writers & Artists Press. She leads writing groups in Sacramento where the topic of grief and loss often arises. Read more of her beautiful writing here.

In life, he was a pitcher—
his dad, the Little League
coach, commanded him to
throw a hundred balls a night
for practice, wearing out
his arm, eventually giving
up the game altogether.

But all grown up, he
bought me a thick mitt,
taught me to catch a softball,
not to be afraid,
not to throw like a girl.

Now I see him as a catcher.
From his vantage, he
must be able to move nimbly
out to shortstop or even
cover left field when souls
come hurtling his way.

I imagine him catching
Anne when she soared
skyward, and, last fall,
reaching out for my father,
a pop fly.

And he must have been catching
the day I had Buddy put to
sleep—before I felt the old
dog grow heavy in my arms.
That night I awoke to barking,
shook myself like the dog
after a bath, happy
he’d been safely caught
like a big, soft ball.

Jan's dog Buddy standing on a bench in her backyard next to a pot with a green plant in it. Buddy is a senior yellow lab.

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