A year ago I posted a moving column by Palm Beach Post golf writer Craig Dolch. Craig's 14-year-old son Eric had contracted encephalitis and was having non stop seizures. The boy had to be put in a coma because of this.
Go and read the column in my old post. It's worth the time before continuing with the rest of my post.
About a month ago I noticed that Craig was writing for the Post again. I dropped him an email asking how his son was doing. Craig wrote back shortly afterwards with an update. Eric was at Miami Children's Hospital a year after first being admitted.
Today Craig wrote a front page column for the Post. I again suggest you read it in its entirety. It's about Craig's return to covering golf and how his life and work has changed.
All I say is I pray Craig gets the wish at the end of what he wrote. Please do the same. God bless the Dolch family.
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I covered a golf major last week for the first time in 14 months. Tiger Woods won again, so not much has changed in the golf world.
I wish I could say the same about my world.
When Tommy Bonk of the Los Angeles Times spotted me at the PGA Championship, he said: "It really feels good to have you out here again. Things feel more normal."
Life has been anything but normal since my 15-year-old son, Eric, was diagonsed with encephalitis - a rare, sometimes fatal swelling of the brain. The nightmare began when my wife, Ava, rushed Eric to the emergency room at Nicklaus Children's Hospital while I was covering the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. The day after Father's Day.
Since then, Eric has been in and out of hospitals and comas as doctors struggle to control the constant seizures and the many other ailments that have racked his body.
The Post has been incredible to us, allowing me time off to be by my son's bedside for a year. But I knew that sooner or later, I would return to work and my job as a golf beat writer.
Traveling to Medinah for the PGA Championship, I wondered what the week would be like. Emotional, yes, but would I approach my job with the same passion and dedication? Would I be so worried about Eric's constant ups and downs that the tournament would seem insignificant?
How would I react when a player stormed off after a poor round, refusing to talk? Would I shake my head and shrug or chase him down?
As much as I hated being away from Eric for the longest stretch since he got sick, I knew it would be therapeutic to get back to work. I normally spend 20 weeks a year on the road covering golf. In a sense, the Tour's caravan - players, caddies, media members, officials - is like a second family to me.
The week started rocky because Eric was having seizures and a very high temperature Monday and Tuesday. After every nervous call to Miami Children's Hospital for an update, I was having difficulty spelling my name correctly, much less trying to write a couple of stories a day and make them interesting.
As Eric improved, so did my mood. By Wednesday, I wasn't thinking about Eric every three seconds. I was no longer simply Eric Dolch's father, as I am known at the hospital, but once again Craig Dolch, golf writer.
The support I received during the week was unbelievable. From the players. From the caddies. From other writers and announcers. From the PGA of America officials. They all wanted to know two things: How's Eric? And how was I doing?
No surprise. Ever since word got out about Eric's illness, the golf community has been overwhelming with its support. Calls poured in from everywhere, with Dana Quigley and Gary Player among the first to reach out. LPGA legend Mickey Wright wrote a beautiful letter.
Help and encouraging words also came from Raymond and Maria Floyd, Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, Nick Price, JoAnne Carner, Olin Browne, Dottie Pepper, Ian Baker-Finch, Jesper Parnevik, Bob Murphy, Judy Dickinson, Brett Quigley, Jimmy Roberts, Bob Toski and Tom Fazio.
We've been encouraged, too, by Floyd's close friend, Don Shula, the NFL's winningest coach, who I know from covering the Dolphins for four years in the late-1980s.
The response has been humbling for me, my wife and our daughter, Alex, 17.
The golf world is used to reaching out to others. Every PGA tournament earns millions of dollars for charities.
The best part about the week at the PGA came on Friday when Eric's neurologist, Dr. Trevor Resnick, gave the medical clearance for our son to finally come home, hopefully in the next week.
It's been more than a year and we still don't know how well Eric will recover or if he'll be able to do the most basic things in life.
But being back inside the yellow ropes at a major proved to be uplifting and cathartic. I can better understand why athletes going through a personal crisis often say that the competition serves as a relief.
By the way, when the first player walked off without wanting to talk, I simply tracked him down in the locker room.
That's part of covering golf. I can't wait to get back out there again.
Most of all, I can't wait for the day when Eric travels with me for a tournament.