This is part four of a seven part series.
After practice that day, Mercedes volunteered to give Alyssa a lift back to her dorm on campus. The two sat in Mercedes’ vehicle for two hours and talked nonstop about their mothers. Alyssa told Mercedes what she had to go through in losing her mom. That conversation gave Mercedes a steady dose of reality. Because of their early bonding experience, it was Mercedes who offered to be with Alyssa on the three-year anniversary of Roni’s death, just to be with her. Mercedes thought that Alyssa was a very strong person and her ability to be upbeat about everything made an impression on Mercedes. The feeling was reciprocated.
“She seemed very strong-willed, that she was ready to take on anything,” said Alyssa about Mercedes. “She was obviously scared what was going to happen with her mom, but after talking to her, I realized how in touch with her family she was and how [she] was trying to fight through being away from her mom.”
Mercedes had gained a new friend in Alyssa. Having somebody who had already been through the same experience helped Mercedes cope with her own struggles.
As fall workouts progressed, Mercedes remained to herself. She felt out of shape at times and it was a continuous struggle to remain upbeat about her new home. She would sometimes become very depressed and shut herself in her room. She would feel emotionally drained. According to both Meghan and Alyssa, you wouldn’t be able to tell Mercedes was having a bad day unless she actually told you.
“When I came to practice, I practiced but at the same time, I wouldn’t say that I gave 100 percent, but I felt like I had nothing in me,” Mercedes said. October of that year is one that made it particularly tough.
Marchelle’s doctor had given her the wrong dosage of medicine and that caused her to fall out of the shower and break her leg. Mercedes’ family kept that news from her to make sure she didn’t worry too much. Marchelle was supposed to visit WT for Mercedes’ birthday on October 15, but because of her leg injury and other cancer-related complications, she had to be in the hospital in Tucson. So, Mercedes decided to video-chat with Marchelle. When Marchelle picked up the other end of the line, the face on the other side was not what Mercedes was expecting.
“That was the first time that I had seen my mom and she looked completely different,” Mercedes said, retelling that she had never cried so hard in her life. “That was the first time when her hair was fully gone. I’ll never forget that day.”
On the softball field, Mercedes had made the switch from first base to second base and she started playing right next to Alyssa. She soon discovered that Mercedes would hide her emotions with anger. But she also found out what kind of competitor Mercedes was. She would often talk to her glove and say snide comments during live action. Alyssa believes it would be interesting to “mic up” Mercedes during practice to hear all of the sarcastic things she says. Alyssa also believes that most of it would have to be censored, but it would still be interesting. As the duo started to throw more balls between them, their relationship started to become more and more relaxed.
Meghan, out in left field had a bird’s eye view for the relationship that was forming between Alyssa and Mercedes. She noticed that Alyssa was always very supportive of Mercedes. She could see they were getting closer.
Finally, as the fall semester turned into the spring semester, softball season was right around the corner. Mercedes was happy to be back in school for the new semester, and there was an excitement in the air. Things were tough coming back from Tucson after Christmas 2011, but softball seemed to help with the transition.
“I was ready to play, but there was just something missing,” Mercedes said. “I don’t know how to explain it. I was ready to play but I didn’t play up to my full ability.”
The games started coming and softball seemed to help Mercedes fill an emptiness in her life. Marchelle, back in Tucson, would often watch her games online at work. When co-workers would see what Marchelle was up to, she would put her index finger up to her lips as if to tell them to not tell anybody that she was watching softball.
In February, Marchelle visited Mercedes and stayed with her in her apartment. During the visit, it snowed and Marchelle was snapping pictures of the snow and sending them to Mercedes’ brothers. Also, during her visit, Marchelle got sick from the chemotherapy treatments she was undergoing in Arizona. That was the first time that Mercedes had ever seen her mom get sick like that. On top of that, Mercedes could not lie in bed with Marchelle, something that she had done ever since Mercedes was a little girl, because Mercedes had a cold and she didn’t want to get her mom sick.
In the early part of the season, Mercedes was playing second base but she was struggling. She was splitting time with teammate Robbie Dailey at second.
In late March, Marchelle made another trip to Canyon to watch her daughter’s team by No. 1 Angelo State, a conference rival. When Marchelle was walking up the stairs at one of the games, she slipped and Mercedes’ stepdad had to catch her. Mercedes instantly started crying. She had never seen her mom struggle with climbing up stairs. She knew that something was wrong with her. But, Marchelle loved the visit. Mercedes could tell just by Marchelle’s face that she was proud of her. Cancer or not, Marchelle was going to see her daughter play softball. It was just one thing that she had to do. But, because of Mercedes’ recent struggles on the field, Dailey started two of the three games and Mercedes came into the games in relief. The thought of not starting while her mother was visiting killed Mercedes.
It didn’t matter to Marchelle. She got to see her daughter play the sport she loved. Marchelle didn’t talk much during the visit but she fell more in love with WT when she visited. But Mercedes was nervous about the visit. The family tried to go to dinner one night but Marchelle wasn’t feeling well so the plans fell through. Mercedes just went to Marchelle’s room and rested with her.
After Marchelle left Canyon, Mercedes was left again to fend for herself. But her play got better, thanks to a jolt of confidence spurred by Marchelle’s visit. The life on the softball field got better for Mercedes. Still, she’d rather forget the 2012 season. Her relationship to her short stop, however, got stronger after her mom’s visit. Alyssa became the go-to person for Mercedes if she was having a bad day and she learned to lean on her a lot more as the season wore on. She started to consider Alyssa to be a sister. But Alyssa didn’t press the issues with Mercedes; she let her come to her in her own time.
“She’s really kind-hearted,” Alyssa said. “She’s one of those very unique people that you meet and as soon as you meet her and she gets close to you that she’s gonna have your back on absolutely anything. You could have screwed up so massively in your life and she will still sit there and defend you for that. I think that’s really kind of cool to see in a person.”
Want to read the rest of the series? Click the links below!
Want to read the rest of the series? Click the links below!