“If you build it they will come.”
And we did. All three of us. We entered and left both nostalgic for simpler times and excited for the future, not knowing our world was going to be turned inside out three weeks later. We left our mark there as a family of three for the only time, at the Field of Broken Dreams.
Mapping out our road trip from the East Coast to Colorado, my husband and I drew a straight line through the corn fields of Iowa before hockey sticking up to South Dakota for a visit with Mount Rushmore. I had always wanted to see the Presidents carved into stone, looking out across what they helped build, seeking the ones who would lead tomorrow. Iowa didn’t draw me in the same way, but we would be stopping through.
Before two blue lines on a pregnancy test revealed that our rented Toyota Rav4 would be carting two adults and a would-be baby across the country, we decided on our Iowa stopping point. The Field of Dreams. Turns out it’s not simply a Hollywood backdrop built only to be torn down into a new set, it’s real. And it’s beautiful. Everything Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones promised actually.
You take a right off the Interstate which, in contrast to the Interstates I know, is single lanes flanked by rows of corn instead of bumper to bumper traffic. Then you weave down side roads until a rather nondescript sign points you to your destination. You ride down a dirt road, wondering if you’ve made a mistake, and then you see it. The iconic white farm house with the wraparound porch. The baseball field carved out from the corn. There are simple bleachers on either side of the field, five levels high.
Most strikingly, it’s quiet. A father tossed a ball to his kids, standing just a few feet away from the batter’s box. Teenagers walked with their parents around the edges of the outfield, perhaps holding out some hope to witness magic. An older couple sat in comfortable silence on row two of the bleachers. And that was all. No music. No PA system. Just a few soft voices lifted in a light breeze.
Even though neither my husband nor I are die hard baseball fans, the simplicity of the field and the lack of touristy fanfare made this Hollywood landmark something more than that. It was a real throwback to a time when life moved slower, and we respected that by mirroring its pace. There were no tickets to buy, or lines to wait in. You just walked out onto the field, and felt a stirring connection to the past. Even though impatience and the desire to “go, go, go” constantly run through my veins, I could have stayed there simply being for hours.
Behind home plate there is a visitor’s book to sign. It’s filled with names, much like a book laid out on an end table at a cozy family run bed and breakfast. After walking the field and sitting on the bleachers seeing both nothing and everything, we signed the book. Becca, Glen, and Baby.
It would be the last time I would mark our presence like that. Unbeknownst to us, it was one of the last days our baby’s heart would beat. We wouldn’t hear that deafening silence until three weeks later in an overly air conditioned doctor’s office, one day after celebrating the birth of our nation. It was a silence a piece of me feared, but never really expected. A silence I broke with my wails that echoed off the walls. We walked into that office as three, and left as two.
Six years later, I still think about that small town in Iowa where a piece of my heart lies and where it will forever stay. They built the Field of Dreams, and we came. We came from 1,100 miles away with a couple of big duffel bags in the trunk and visions of a future that wouldn’t be ours. Our family did grow here on earth later on, but our first baby, our second, and our third will always be seen only in our imaginations and hearts. They’ll be seen as we remember them with the trees in our yard and Christmas ornaments shining back at us. But those represent their “after.” These babies aren’t visible in their “during.” There are no physical reminders of when we didn’t know it would end this way.
Except for on that visitor’s book page.
For me, the Field of Dreams will always be that. A field that held all my dreams in its hands before they came tumbling down. A place of innocence, a place of pure hope. My dreams did break, but not there. Not in those moments walking slowly past the corn. Yet my heart still aches thinking that one day I would have told my first baby his or her name was scrolled in the visitor’s book. Thinking maybe he or she would go find it one day. That will not happen.
I can go back though. Someday I will. And if you find yourself going the distance to visit the Field of Dreams, gently touching each base and taking a picture on the bleachers, please sign the book. Then flip back to the signatures from 2013. Look for us. Trace your hand over our names. Ease our pain by remembering that our baby was here, and always will be.