Hey Dad,

You know that Mark Prior jersey you bought me as my Christmas present in 2003?

It saw a lot of use this year.

More use than the year I got crayon all over the back of it after leaning up against the wall at Giordano’s Pizzeria off Jackson. You remember the time you took Mom, Megan and me there and you let us sign the walls, too?

It saw more use than any college parties I wore it to with the “Rep Your Team” theme.

More use than any other year since you’ve been gone.

Why?

You know. World Series Game 7. Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians. You had to be with your buddies in heaven, crying the tears of joy that caused the epic rain delay on Nov. 2. A month later, I still replay that final out– Bryant to Rizzo to Curses End.

Photos: Chicago Cubs victory celebration

The Chicago Cubs are the World Series champions.

Want to know what else is hard to believe? The board beyond right field – the one that read AC 00, 71, 108, the first number for how many years since the Cubs won the division, the second for the number of years since they last won the pennant and the third for the World Series.

It now reads AC 00. 00. 00.

A sign outside Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, reads Emaus Catuli, a loose phrase for ‘Go Cubs’, and AC—Anus Catuli, ‘In the year of our Cubs’—with numbers that show how long since the Cubs won the division, the pennant and the World Series.

And you know what else? Mom is a huge sports fan now. She took me to my first Cubs Convention back in high school. She surprised me with it one night and said we were going to Chicago for the weekend. She stood with me when I spotted Dusty Baker and Ryan Dempster in the hall and got their autographs.

The bond that you and I shared over watching sports? Mom shares that bond with me now, too.

She kept the tradition of going to yearly games until I moved away after college.

Then this year, Mom and I went with your niece to her first game in the Friendly Confines. The Cubs won, of course, because there was no way we were walking out of there without singing, ‘Go Cubs Go.’

This year I also stood up and cheered for a Milwaukee Brewer. I know, Dad. In the year the North Siders won it all, I cheered for an opponent because after all the years of wanting to cover sports, I finally do. And along the way, I’ve met a lot of athletes, some whom have become friends. So that day, my friend knocked a home run to right field while Mom and I watched from behind home plate. I know you’re not mad, though, because you always taught me there were good guys on both sides of the diamond.

Your sister made sure to point out that he also struck out that game, too. Can’t be perfect every at-bat, right, Dad?

But maybe the coolest thing that happened this year, Dad, is that Megan had a baby boy. He bears your name. And the night the Cubs returned to the World Series, he sat on my lap. Neither one of us realizing the moments that were to come.

Stephanie Kuzydym and her father went to a Cubs game and sat along the left field line to watch Sammy Sosa hit home runs in 1998.

A FATHER'S GIFT: How I learned to love the Chicago Cubs

He won’t understand it for a couple of years, but when the time comes, I know we’ll be there with him, buying him Cracker Jacks, teaching him how to keep a scorecard and staying until the last out – because you never, ever leave a game early in this family. Just like you never quit. And you never stop believing.

You were right, Dad. If you believe long enough, anything can happen.

This was next year.

Love,

Stephanie