Wednesday at around 7 p.m., I strapped myself in for a roller coaster ride of a lifetime.
Game 7 of the World Series was thrilling, exasperating, terrifying, exhausting and — above all — fulfilling.
It was anything but a smooth ride, but any Cubs fan who thought a 108-year-old drought could possibly end in such a fashion was fooling themselves.
It's confession time: When Rajai Davis tied up the game, 6-6, with a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning, I was certain that the game was over. The Cubs would not be ending the drought in 2016, and who knows, maybe they never would.
I said to my wife as the bottom of the ninth began and Chapman — inexplicably — came out to pitch against the heart of the Indians' order, "There's no way we're making it through this inning. No way."
Well, Chapman did. And easily.
"Hmmm," I thought. "We have Schwarber, Bryant and Rizzo coming up. There's a chance."
But deep down, I didn't believe it. I knew the Cubs were going to, well, do Cub stuff.
I was wrong, and shame on me for not giving the benefit of the doubt to a team that has earned that all season long.
This 2016 Cubs team never gave me or any other fan reason for doubt. They always came through, even when it looked like they wouldn't. Even when they were down 2-1 in the NLCS against the Dodgers and, before that, when pitching matchups looked shaky against the Giants.
Oddly, down 3-1 in the World Series, I didn't feel that bad. I knew the matchups in the next two games greatly favored the Cubs and Game 7s — as sports history has taught us — are notorious crapshoots.
But, when Davis' rocket sailed past the wall in left field, all that hope and good feeling I had flew out the window. The 36 years of disappointment I'd lived through as a Cubs fan came roaring back.
For that, I'm ashamed.
This team was different. They'd proven it to us time and time again, but the emotional baggage carried around by at least this Cubs fan — and I suspect many others — was just too much to overcome, mentally.
In that moment, it didn't matter that this team had earned our trust — but it should have.
When Ben Zobrist doubled in the go-ahead run in the 10th — followed by an RBI single from Miguel Montero — the emotions started to flow out. It became clear to me what should have been clear all along: The Cubs were going to win the World Series.
I still haven't quite come to grips with reading, writing or seeing any varaition on those words. My initial thoughts were with those for whom "next year" never came. My grandfather, first, but even folks with direct ties to the team like Harry Caray, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks, etc.
This is something I will not take for granted. It's not lost on me that so many loyal Cubs fans in the last 108 years never got to experience what I'm experiencing now. I plan to soak up every moment I can and genuinely enjoy it and I'm also excited for what the future holds.
For the first time as a Cubs fan, I can't wait 'til next year.
Contact Managing Editor Adam Parkhouse at email@example.com or 1-219-214-4170.