'In a perfect world, no parent should ever have to bury their child and no high school kid should ever have to bury their parents.'
—Ernie Millard, Homestead baseball and wrestling coach and teacher
But as we all know, the world is many light years from perfect and in the grand cosmic scheme of things, awful events like Millard mentioned can and will sometimes happen, striking down great potential and possibility on one hand and taking away loving guidance and understanding on the other.
The Homestead baseball team of 2013 will be known for the brilliance of all-stater and Now All-Suburban pitcher Colten Poellinger. It was also be known for the disappointment of the WIAA regional loss to Port Washington when the Pirates scored six runs in the top of the seventh to erase a 5-0 deficit.
But it was a good group, a fun group with a large senior class and so Millard kept to tradition and took the team a few days after the loss to Port to his in-laws nearby cabin on a lake where they got to blow off steam and engage in some friendly foolishness on a beautiful summer's day.
'We had a great time swimming, tipping canoes, just having fun,' said Millard. 'That was my last memory of Alex.'
Alex Michael Fish was a senior pitcher on that team and was many things to many people before he passed away on March 7, at the impossibly young age of 21 in Barcelona, Spain, due to what is being said is complications with his long-standing diabetes condition. He was a first-born twin and big brother (by a couple of minutes) to sister Genna Fish, and son of Christopher Fish and Kristin Eve Fish.
He was also teammate to then junior pitcher and first baseman Ben Garstecki. Garstecki carried his own burden, as by the time of that 2013 season his mom, Lisa Lange-Garstecki, was well into a long battle with cancer. She fought it successfully for more than a decade before finally succumbing to it on March 11 at the age of 51.
She dedicated her life to Ben and his siblings, the Mequon community and also served as a youth soccer and tennis coach. She was also an active member of the Brown Deer Women's Golf League.
That service was held March 16 at Christ Church in Mequon.
In short, it was a long week for Millard and the Homestead community as a whole as loving memory worked upstream against despair and the ever-present question 'Why?'
Millard said Fish was a person, that upon meeting, you would always remember.
According to his obituary, he was diagnosed with diabetes at age three and 'never once complained about the day-to-day challenges of managing blood sugar'.
'Not letting Diabetes define him, he was very active in sports, had many friends and excelled in the classroom.'
He was a member of the National Honor Society (for which Millard was an advisor at the time), graduated with high honors, participated in basketball and was a three-year letterwinner on the baseball team.
'Friends,' the obituary said. 'Would describe him as thoughtful, kind, funny and most of all genuine.'
On that baseball team, he was part of a deep pitching staff. Poellinger was the ace, but Millard said that Fish was extremely capable in his own right.
'He was a sought after pitcher,' said Millard, 'because of pure ability and potential. The hardest thrower in the group based on pure velocity, but he had his mind made up about going to Madison (UW-Wisconsin).'
Madison would offer him his coveted goal of a high-level business degree and the chance at international travel. He was a junior double majoring in international business and investment-banking and finance.
He was not a complete bookworm, however, as he was treasurer of the Badger Diabetes Advocates, a member of the Capital Management Club, Society of Personal Investments, Fantasy Sports Finance Club, Sellery Hall Association and a member of the Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity.
He had just been accepted into the university's Masters of Science program for finance and was looking forward to an internship in New York City this summer. Fish was in Barcelona visiting an old friend and studying there at the Council of International Educational Exchange. He had already traveled extensively throughout Europe and according to the obit had made many new friends.
Fish's death struck everyone like a thunderbolt and precise details of his passing are still being investigated ('He didn't show up where he said he would be and that wasn't like him,' said Millard). There was an overflow memorial in Barcelona on March 10 before the family came to retrieve him for the long, sad journey home.
'He was where he wanted to be,' said Millard. 'You really can't take any solace out of this. ...'
Visitation and service was held at Fox Point Lutheran Church in Fox Point March 14 and 15.
Like many, Millard is simply despondent.
'Just a great kid,' he said. 'One of the things that made him great was that he was strong-willed. He wanted to be out there (on the mound) throwing hard, bringing heat, and like a lot of smart kids, he had a really nice, dry sense of humor.
'Wow, will he be missed.'