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José Fernández’s passing: One year later

Remembering the man he was both on and off the field.

Philadelphia Phillies v Miami Marlins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

How can 365 days later feel like yesterday?

I will never forget, for the rest of my life, where I was and what I was doing when I got the news that Jose Fernandez had passed away. For me, it has become a singular event, much like 9/11 was, or, reaching back further in my youth, to when the Berlin Wall came down.

More than just remembering vividly the dark cadence of the day, I can still feel the train of emotions: Disbelief. Shock. Queasiness. Helplessness. A lingering sadness that was underneath the surface all day long but would sharpen randomly and threaten to overwhelm, and finally, a torrent of grief when all of the day’s work had been put safely behind me.

That was my day, mourning the loss of José as a fan and frequent observer. I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like for those who actually knew him. What it must have been like — what it’s still like — for his teammates, for his family. They are all struggling with the reality of his absence freshly today.

At this point, it seems disingenuous to mention José’s passing without noting that two other young men, Eduardo Rivera and Emilio Macias, also lost their lives that day, as a direct result of Fernàndez’s actions.

That being said, I believe it’s entirely possible to acknowledge Fernández’s terrible mistakes that horrible morning while at the same time honoring the amazing life that he led prior to those 6-7 hours.

We all make bad decisions as human beings, some with consequences more dire than others, but most of us are lucky enough to be able to live with those mistakes. Do try and keep that in mind if you feel the urge to chime in regarding the details surrounding José’s death.

This will really be the only piece we produce this week that focuses on the tragedy of that day. If you care to, you can look back at the reaction here at Fish Stripes surrounding the news. Though I’d give much to change the circumstances that brought about all of that writing (were it in my power), I have to say I came away from it proud of what we produced as a staff, given the heavy nature of the situation.

The forthcoming articles, in contrast, will be decidedly more upbeat as we remember with great fondness what José provided as teammate, as a competitor, and as a fan favorite. José played the game of baseball with an unmatched, almost child-like exuberance, and it’s that joyous attitude which I’m personally missing the most today.

We no longer get to celebrate #JoseDay every fifth day, but perhaps you’ll join us as we reminisce during #JoseWeek.