What it Must Have Been Like for Phil

Phil's Mother and Wife were both battling breast cancer when he made the final turn heading down the last nine at Augusta last week. These women figure large in his life.

The woman in a man's life - can be the journey's end for him - the ocean to all his streams. When I was young a man told me a story. He said that when his father died, he found a picture in safekeeping. I guess we all keep things to ourselves, that others will only find when we die. This picture was simple. It was of a woman standing on the beach. On the back it read: the two things I love most in the world. My wife and the Pacific ocean.

I'm not the best single parent. I make mistakes. My cooking , if there is justice in the world - should be classed as a misdemeanor offense in child endangerment. Tonight was roast beef sandwiches, ginger ale and potato chips. We eat way too much fast food.

When my ex-wife was here, she would cook amazing meals out of almost nothing at all. They would glow. The kids loved them.

I guess I am wondering what it would be like to be Phil. To know that this person you love is going to go away. He misses practice. He shows up late to the tee. Sometimes he doesn't shave, or cut his hair. Why did he win?

I feel it is because he could face death. I think that is the difference between him and Tiger. When Earl Woods died, Tiger came apart. The best that we know of his story - happily married to El, is that he began to come unglued when his father died. We who are married or were married for any length of time look at the few years he was married as a sort of grace period - the breadth of his marriage wasn't spent in growing a family or in the experience of completeness that comes from marriage - but rather the illusion that he pulled over his eyes that he was able to give that much, all the while taking from others. A kind of conduit. And as my mother likes to point out, he was into .. negative connotation. Kink.

But perhaps the better word was naughty. Because he enjoyed breaking the rules. Unlike Bobby Jones, who played the ball as it lies. Or Phil Mickelson. Who knew that each shot could be his last. Who played knowing that the light could go out any minute. Any second of the day. Death, when it hangs over our head - or that of those closest to us - gives us a sense of ourselves that is hard to understand unless it is experienced. Smooth seas do not excellent sailors, make. He weathered the darkness in him. But that is not how he felt.

At the podium, putting on the green - he felt joy. The sun set in his eyes. And the light that played across the green, lit up his eyes. And turned a whiter shade of pale.

I pray for her. I hope she is well. I worry when she falls out of touch. I try to keep the children in contact with her. I see myself in Phil Mickelson. I dream of what it would be like to win the Masters. Every day. Every shot. I take every shot as if it means something. I cannot imagine the joy he felt.

But sometimes I believe I can imagine what it must have been like that evening. His wife gets into bed with him. She has thrown up into the sink. The chemotherapy works on her. She smells lightly of vomit. She wishes she could respond to his touch. Perhaps she can. Its funny how in marriage, sex can be almost indepedent of everything else. Perhaps they would embrace. Perhaps not. It's not important.

He's tired. He closes his eyes. And he lifts up from the green. And he can fly. He's soaring over the woods. He's lifting up into the blue sky. The clouds are soaring overhead and the yellow sun warms his face. He feels the wind against his skin.

Higher. Until the sky turns black. The oceans below trace out in blue. Florida falls away.. then the country. And time starts to roll over him... he watches the sun explode. The forests burn. The sea turn into roiling steam....

And then the glowing red sun moves into the space where we all once were. And he keeps moving on.

And then he's awakened by two kids arguing downstairs. "You're playing the easy game"... "I hate you. I want you to die." ..."Give me the controller"... "But I like this game"

And the dream evaporates. And he goes downstairs to take care of his two small children while his sick wife lies in bed. Two beautiful girls. A seven year old boy. The girls are picking on him again...Amanda. Sophia. Evan.

He closes his eyes. He can feel the cold dark. Another major comes soon. Bobby Jones threw up before each major. The stress got to him that badly. Phil has other things going on in his life. He settles the kids down. Goes back to bed. And sleeps very well at night.

And then comes that dream .. you know, the one where you show up late to the final exam ... and the professor meets you in a big empty classroom...

She's sick. But she's there for him. He throws his arm around her. And falls back to sleep again. The kids will have to be up at six. Daddy's going to win another major. But first he has to take you to school.