Just one week after her husband died in a shocking plane crash, Brandy Halladay stood before the baseball world and eulogized Roy Halladay with a brave and emotional speech that won’t soon be forgotten.
Alternating between tears and laughter, nostalgia and regret, Brandy Halladay’s 18-minute eulogy on Tuesday was nothing short of riveting. From recounting the uncertain early times in Roy’s career to the relative monotony of retirement, Brandy didn’t shy away from baring all of her feelings.
“I’m not sure how to be me without him,” Halladay tearfully admitted. “I didn’t know how big my heart was until I felt the amount of hurt in it with him gone.”
A former star pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay died at age 40 on Nov. 7 after his single-engine plane crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. Tuesday’s memorial service was held at the Phillies’ spring training ballpark in Clearwater, Fla., and featured a roster of speakers that included Halladay’s father Roy, former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and former teammates Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Chris Carpenter.
But while all of their stories perfectly captured the spirit and work ethic of the pitcher who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame one day, they quickly took a back seat to Brandy Halladay’s words as she closed out the service with her tribute.
“All eyes are on me and I’m really fortunate that I’ve gotten used to that feeling because I’ve been literally standing next to a man for 21 years that people could not take their eyes off of,” she said near the beginning. “He was awe-striking. He was beautiful, inside and out. Without saying a word, he always seemed to have the right thing to say. And when he did speak, people listened.”
Neither Brandy nor any of the other speakers spoke of the plane crash at any length. Brandy Halladay initially “fought hard” against her husband’s purchase of the Icon A5 plane early last month.
Brandy began Tuesday’s eulogy by recounting how the couple met as teenagers in their hometown of Arvada, Colorado. She was playing racquetball at the gym when she noticed Roy out of the corner of her eye. They exchanged phone numbers and went out on a date later that night.
“I knew the first moment I saw him that I was going to spend the rest of my life with him and I still know to this day that he was my person,” she said.
The couple quickly built a life together, even as Roy struggled early in his career.
Brandy said she watched it all and did the natural thing: Worry.
“I worried if he slept enough, I worried if there was milk for cereal or if his clothes were clean. I worried about if he was happy, if he was healthy, if we were going to make it through,” she said. “It was overwhelming a lot of times. I watched him suffer through pain and fear and stress. But I also accomplish goals and reach levels of excellence that were unreachable.”
She said Roy wanted to quickly start a family, first by adopting a dog named Murphy (after baseball star Dale Murphy) and then later with the birth of the couple’s two sons, Ryan and Braden, who watched their mother on Tuesday from the front row.
“We had a huge life. We had a beautiful family and we kept going,” Brandy Halladay said. “No matter what, we never stopped. It was just what we did. It’s what you do in baseball and it’s what we’re going to keep doing.”
One of the most poignant parts of Halladay’s speech came when she directly addressed Ryan and Braden and how the family will move on without Roy.
“My boys, they’re already stepping up and trying to take care of me,” she said. “Emotionally and physically, worrying if I’m OK. Asking what they can do to handle what’s going to be on my plate.
She then looked straight at her boys.
“I’m not done being a mom yet. I’m so proud to be your mom. So let me be the crazy one. I do that well too. I know you’re hurting and I am too. It’s unfair, it is. And we miss him. But we still have so much of him. We still have the million phone cords and iPads. We have enough cigars to open our own store. We have a garage full of model airplanes. We still have his not-so-secret stash of hidden ice cream sandwiches. And best of all, I still get to see him every day.
“Because I look at you. And if this is what it took for me to have you boys, then it’s worth it.”
Roy Halladay retired after the 2013 season and Brandy admitted that it was hard to adjust to a post-career life. Not only did Roy struggle, but she said she did as well.
“It’s tough to come home and start over,” she said. “A new life, a new schedule, a new routine. Not very long ago, I was complaining about the monotony of this new routine that I have. Wake up, walk dogs, carpool, make lunches, dishes, laundry, cook dinner that nobody eats. And now I reflect back and I woke up in a beautiful home, in a bed next to a man who told me that he would rather fight with me every day than live without me.”
The words were raw, but they were honest. By the time Brandy Halladay was done, there weren’t many dry eyes left among those who were watching.
“So please today, hug your families a little tighter because you can,” she said in closing. “Take a minute each day to remember how truly blessed we are. Thank you all so much for everything. Not just today. But every minute that we’ve ever been able to share with you. I’m so grateful. Thank you.”
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