Friday, August 13, 2010

Five Years Gone


You were so tall,
how could you fall?
Billy Bragg, Tank Park Salute

The untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.
W. Whitman

...spent Sunday, August 14, 2005, with friends at the beach...used a broken yellow plastic sand mold found at the water’s edge to dig a hole deep enough their little son could stand up in it...

...back at their place, enjoyed a seafood cookout, and sat reading their copy of the second-to-last Harry Potter book...R.I.P., Dumbledore the wizard...finishing it some time after midnight...

...had left my cell-phone on the bedside table in the guest room that morning....getting ready for sleep, saw there were two messages and a text...each from my older brother...each saying the same thing, repeatedly...call me, tonight...with a sense of urgency that made me want to put the phone back down, go to bed, pretend I knew even less than I did...

...less than a week before, handed in grades for my summer course at Cornell...effectively marking the end of my academic career....without regrets...I’d be getting home the next day, Monday, August 15, 2005, to an editing project a friend hooked me up with, and lots of ideas...day one of the whole new thing just waiting to dawn as I made the call...

...some things we think we know will happen, but really don’t...not until they actually do...and even then, it can take a while...and even when we think we do again, there’s layer upon layer of knowing and unknowing, like a cosmic onion ever-unpeeling...

...a car accident...mom was okay...you were not...

...Saturday morning, August 13th, had breakfast with you and mom at McGlade’s on the boardwalk, then left to drive north, stopping to visit friends for a day or two before heading home...neither of you really clear on my career plans, so I explained, again...was gonna try to do what I’d always wanted, work free-lance, write...venture off into the unknown, the untold want...see what happens...

...mom was apprehensive, but you, surprisingly, weren’t...seeming to step away from habitual pessimism, the criticism and negativity that kept me at such distance...in our last minutes together, you smiled almost boyishly, told me how excited you were about what I was doing...proud...happy...

...thank you...

20 comments:

earthtoholly said...

...layer upon layer of knowing and unknowing... Yes, that's how it feels...intellectually you know these things, but emotionally you don't let yourself know or can't believe when they come to pass.

I hope you are at peace, drjay, on this solemn anniversary. You are in my thoughts.

Brooks Hall said...

Thank you for this post. I felt sadness as I read. So sorry... I know I don't have the right thing to say... Wish you well!

the half-life of linoleum said...

a tree taps on a window pane, that feeling smothers me again. . . 7/13/66 seems like yesterday. seems like it never happened.

the walking man said...

There are a lot of questions raised for me in that last paragraph but primarily was your usually cynic brother happy for you because he shared the wish to be able to walk out into the unknown or was he happy for your new trajectory because he hoped you would fail?

Time has passed now...what is the end of the story?

Kim said...

I'm sorry for your loss. This post is a beautiful tribute.

Jamie said...

sending you positive energy, strength, and light on such a dark day.

Lydia said...

Oh, Jay, hands-down my favorite post of yours yet. I'm too moved to say more.

Anahita said...

This post was beautiful, first: because it is achingly honest and second: because you took us through some of those layerings of thought and emotion with you through the written word.

May your father R.I.P. and may your heart, also be at peace. Namaste.

Bob Weisenberg said...

Thanks for sharing this with us, Jay.

Bob W.

Rhiannon said...

Sounds like as the end was near for your father, he accepted you for who you really were and what you wanted to do in your life...and he let you know...how bittersweet but with a wonderful good-bye memory...thanks for sharing this...very special...

Juliana Matthews said...

This is such a poignant piece about loss, about life and about inevitable change.
Thank you for sharing this, it touched my soul.

La Gitane said...

Om shanti Dr Jay. Thanks for being brave enough to share this. My heart goes out to you and yours today.

Elena Padovesi said...

The issue is not home, you is the issue

nothingprofound said...

A bittersweet memory beautifully and lovingly described. I live in Ithaca, so maybe we inadvertently crossed paths on that Open Road some time before that sad day.

patti said...

The W. Whitman quote always gives me goosebumps, as did your post. Love to you Dr J xx

Melinda said...

Wow, Jay--this was achingly and hauntingly beautiful. Poignant and melancholy but I really got a profound sense of hope too.

Interesting that you were in Ithaca. Les went to school at Cornell.

I think it's great that you are exploring new options. If you want to go back to academia, it will still be there. I love teaching still--but I hope to explore other horizons as well.

Take care, Jay--and here's a big (((((hug))))).

Melinda

berenice said...

Dr. Jay, i read this on Friday via the Google reader, it brought tears to my eyes, i don't think i ever cried before reading a blog, and that is to show what a wonderful writer you are, i share with you the loss of the ones gone, my dad passed in 2009... i left you an eHug and all my admiration for the writer, the yogi, and the person you are

namaste!

Lana Gramlich said...

Oh hon...I don't know what to say. *big hugs*

Bird said...

I'm glad you saw the happiness and pride your father felt. He was sure of you.

TheRiverWanders said...

Took a while to comment on this post because it helped call forth a period of reflection that is just now concluding. A beneficial experience, all things considered.

I like that you wrote this post to him. I still talk to my father and, finally, I get the last word (although he would tell you that I always did ;). I wish he knew then how much I idolized him...how I wanted to be more like him than anyone I knew. I am fortunate because we made our peace a couple of years before he was suddenly gone...I'm so grateful he let me in instead of working so hard to keep me at arm's length.

Habitual pessimism...criticism...negativity...all those qualities inure to fear...have to wonder what made them afraid, you know? I have a few answers...I always want more...but enough to let go of the last few questions, anyway. Enough to soothe the inner child who still cries every time I peel a layer off that onion...