muddy feet memoirs

The Chronicle of My Comeback

Category: Signs from the Afterlife

Dear Jay #3: It’s Over Between Us

Relationships are dynamic – when they stop being collaborative they die on the vine.

I’ve tried to think of us as the ultimate long distance relationship, but the thing is this:  I keep growing, and I’m growing past you.  You’re static, exactly where we left off, but I’m light years past that now.  Your death, and ALL the bullshit that came along afterwards, has propelled me into a completely different world.  I try to imagine you in bed next to me giving me one of your pep talks, but it’s just a memory.  I’m alone with this – all of it.  Erin’s heartlessness, the pointless fight over your Life Insurance money, losing the kids, the ruinous debacle at the school, my decision to not run for office, the blooming 8ft weeds in the backyard, the broken cars, my empty bank account, my debilitating depression…  fuck.

I’m glad to hear that you’re visiting friends in their dreams – it sounds like you, the stories they report, and so I believe that you are with us.  I’d love it if you came to me in a dream again, but that’s all I have to hope for with you – a cryptic vision from my subconscious, a Jungian interpretation.  What I don’t have is your support.  I don’t have you to forge ahead with.

I took my wedding ring off.  I know you’re not coming back.  It’s over.



Dear Jay #2: I’ve been talking at your picture lately

jay and his bike

Hey baby,

I changed my screensaver to one of my favorite pictures of you – when you posed with your new bicycle right in front of the roses, the bike the kids and I bought for you.  There are a lot of pictures of you from that time – it was one of those birthdays we thought would be your last (but you made it practically another 2 years!).  I remember the importance of buying you something that had value and shelf-life…  it was symbolic on a host of levels.  Years before you sold your original bicycle just after your divorce.  It was like cutting off a limb, but it fed your kids…  Having something to ride again was profound, especially since that heavy cloud hung above us suggesting “why buy something for the guy who will be dead before he can enjoy it?”.  The look on your face in this photo is the unspoken retort.  You are my most beautiful Jay in this picture.  You even have on the clothes I imagine you have on right now:  those Old Navy cargo shorts, the long-sleeved brown Henley you loved, and your well-worn Oregon hat you wore daily – backwards.  And that handsome grin, with those sideburns and that beard you worked so hard to have.  My perfect Jay.  When I boot up my computer I take a minute with you every time.  I love you, baby.

I’ve been talking at your picture lately.

I took the last few days off to go to the beach with Nina and Stella.  I’ve had a lot on my mind, and though I kept talking to your picture I wasn’t getting a lot of feedback, so I went to listen to the beach instead.  We stayed at Doran Beach – you remember that time we took Stella for the day and it was so rainy and windy no one dared the water?  And Stella begged to take her clothes off, so when I said ‘no’ she ran into the water fully clothed?!  We were there, but this time Stella wore swim clothes…  she was still the only person in the water, but at least she had something to change into afterwards.

Anyways, I’ve really missed you lately.  Missed you as a partner, as a parent.  As a sounding board.  I’ve had so much on my mind.

The night before we left, Stella and I watched part of a PBS series on Ghandi – I asked her to please watch it with me.  I was then inspired to pluck a collection of his works from the bookshelf to bring to the beach.  If your gorgeous picture wasn’t going to talk back to me I might as well try another, less attractive saint.  I think it might have worked.  It’s a good thing saints talk through the ages, because Ghandi’s writings were largely from the 1920’s.

I read about service without attachment to the fruits of work, about truth-force, community, refusing to be an agent of deceit, sacrifice, remembering everything is a gift from God in service to our realization of him…  I got sunburned at the beach (praise him!).

We all returned home with a fatigue that only days at the beach can produce.  Stella and I showered & lounged in our towels, too lethargic to say or do much of anything, until Stella piped up saying “I’m sad”, looking at the bookshelf displaying Quinn’s most precious belongings.  “Me too,” I said back.

I look at the kids’ things and remember how fractured we are.  I look at your picture and remember how whole we became.  I miss you, baby.  I wish you could talk back.  My insights from hanging with Ghandi on the beach will come soon.  Until then, please know that I love you and I will likely never stop talking at your picture.  If you have time, please visit me in my dreams.



Baby Jay

baby jay

Jay has died.  He died early on March 23, 2014.  I have so much to write about that I have been unable to write…  It will come.  Today I have a very short story for you.

This morning Ira, my sweet little man who lost his father to cancer a year and a half ago, accompanied Stella and me to school in the truck.  As we bumped along he asked us “Has Jay been to visit you yet?”  I told him honestly No, as did Stella.  Ira said, “Well, I just saw him in a dream.  He was drinking beer with my dad.”  To which Stella asked “Was it Fat Tire?  Fat Tire was Jay’s favorite.”  Ira said “Yeah, it was Fat Tire.  My dad was drinking Dos Exes.  They were smoking cigarettes – Jay had his little tobacco with him.”  I told him that was excellent.

I dropped them at school and came home to work in the garden.

In all honesty, I have not slept for months. The memorial service on Saturday seemed to last – on some level – through Monday.  I have barely gotten out of bed till today.  I chose today to tend to the garden.  Spring is more than warm in Vallejo right now, but I have tomatoes and green beans to plant, and a wild garden to consider.  Once I was out there I couldn’t stop futzing.

I have a pregnant rabbit, due any day now.  I planted a 4×12 bed of tomatoes.  I let a rooster out to graze despite the code violation.  The artichokes are coming in hard and fast.

In my compulsion to be outside I made yet another pass, maybe 10 minutes after my last pass, and I saw Cow sniffing at a little grey fluff on the ground just under the oak tree, just beside the rabbit hutches.

A baby Scrub Jay lay on the ground.  She clearly had just hopped out of her nest.  I scooped her up and she nestled into my hand – just a few feathers had replaced her down.  She could not fly.  I carried her to a garden bed and dug with my free hand for worms – she seemed disinterested.  I brought her upstairs, placed her into a cloth napkin and put her in a casserole dish near the sink.  I covered her with a lid – off kilter for air – and Googled how to care for baby Jays.  Seems it’s not legal to care for wild birds…  I then went to our local feed store – Powell’s – and they sold me a small cage and baby bird formula.  So arrest me.

Poetically there remained one last syringe from Jay’s last days – one through which  I fed him Phenobarbital, Methadone,  liquid Ativan and/or Morphine…   one that somehow missed the purge of all things medical after Jay died.  Today I found that last syringe and it fed our baby Jay the contraband formula hustled from the streets of Vallejo.

When I picked Ira and Stella up from school I told them about the new baby Jay, how it seemed like a sign.  Ira said “I hope Jay visits me again.”

I can’t help thinking it really was a visit.  Another Jay for me to love, care for, and let go.  Brings me joy.  Makes me wonder.