Today we will all come together and celebrate your life, remember your friendship, honor your memory.
I hope we are able do that in the way you expected us to.
You know, right after we all found out you had left us, the February weather got warm, temperatures rose into the 70’s and even 80’s. It was wonderful. It was like you were telling us it was time to plant the tomatoes.
Then you called us all home to Jersey to share some time to remember you in a Nor’easter!
Yesterday Matt flew in from Florida to Atlantic City in 70 mile an hour winds, “roughest ride ever,” is how he described it.
Then you had me driving over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 60 mile an hour winds since 95 north was closed because two tractor trailers had literally blown over on the Tydings Bridge north of Baltimore.
It was kind of reminiscent of Ricky whipping us around the Shrewsbury in his little Boston Whaler… scary.
But then I hit the Delaware Memorial Bridge and it was covered with slush and I came down into New Jersey and there were cars spun out in ditches on both sides of the highway, and I said to myself “you son of a B?#@*, there is no way you are going to get me to have an accident just to come hang out with you tonight, I hope you are having fun with this, I will see you in good time.”
We did have a lot of fun though.
The time we had to have our sisters bring new clothes to school for us in the eighth grade, in order to participate in graduation because the principal didn’t like our bell bottoms and rope braided belts.
Going to church at Precious Blood and instead of going inside and taking Communion we stayed outside and took something else.
The time we hitch hiked to Asbury Park to see Grand Funk Railroad at the Convention Hall, my first concert, and the wild ride home we had.
The stretch of Steel Mill shows including the infamous Highlands Clearwater Swim Club show; the Sunshine In Black Sabbath/Cactus show that we had early show tickets to, that turned into a Steel Mill marathon when Black Sabbath kept blowing the power. I think my mother almost reported me missing that night and my sister picked us up when we finally spilled out on the street at about 2 AM. And the final Upstage shows.
The time your sister Diane drove us into the Asbury Park riots where we were stopped by the National Guardsman in full combat gear who asked us “where the hell do you guys think you are going?” then told us to turn around and get out of out of there.
Walking barefoot to North Long Branch and walking back home from North Long Branch. Then walking to North Long Branch again, and walking back home from North Long Branch. Over and over and over again.
Getting up at 4 AM after getting home at 3 AM to drive to Berkley Heights in your father’s pick-up truck to work at “the shop,” your family’s church furniture woodworking business. And the time we went to install church pews at a church in West Orange and Uncle Rudy parked the truck on the hill and the load shifted, when we opened the rear door of the box truck the pews came crashing out on to the street. Glad that wasn’t our fault.
I could go on and on.
But I have to admit to something. After losing Donny in 2002, I thought I was immune to all of this. I thought that never again would I ever feel that death was something that would take me by surprise, something that would rattle me. I thought that analytically and spiritually I had it under control, because I lived with grief every day and it would never affect me the same again.
And for almost 16 years it didn’t.
Then, I learned I was wrong.
Because, in the last two weeks I felt it again.
And I got scared.
And I started thinking I didn’t even want to come up here and go through this again.
But I knew I had to, and I wanted to, and I knew why as well.
Because I realized, though I had experienced loss, it had been almost 16 years since I lost someone I loved, a member of my “family.”
And the hurt came back.
Your sister told me you had talked about this day and how it should be. Not religious, just a day for your friends.
So I promise not to get religious, and I think you can be pretty sure that your friends are here.
Through nor’easters or whatever; we may not be barefoot anymore, or need to hitch hike…but thanks for sharing today with us and all the other days before that we will remember.
We had some fun.