I started this story 2 days before my birthday – two days before your memorial service.
I think, ultimately, Kerouac said it best:
“I hope it is true that a man can die and yet not only live in others but give them life, and not only life, but that great consciousness of life.”
You definitely do that for me, Joe. You definitely do that for me.
I’m finishing it today – your birthday. It hit me really hard at work today. I realized it was your birthday and I picked up my phone to call you.
And I realized that I couldn’t do that anymore.
And for the first time in a very long time, I had to run out of my work space and hide in the bathroom and start crying. And I didn’t want to stop crying. But I did – in what you would say was “record time, for you” – and finished my day. And I don’t expect that it will be an uncommon occurrence over the next few days.
At lunch, two of my new friends came with me, and we all sat, had a beer, discussed D&D, poetry, and random things, and split food. And listened to you all the way to and from the restaurant. And I listened to you play a lot today, Joe. I had to. I probably will in the next few days. I still listen every week – it’s pretty much a habit, by now, an unconscious thought, a thing I do to complete every week I have.
I did on my birthday, too. I was driving to Dallas, and I put the first CD I ever got from you guys – hell, remember? You got me in the show and I promised to buy a CD, and I did. And that’s the CD I was listening to.
I still can’t believe that you’ve been gone this long. I feel bad I didn’t write this in time for your book.
You brought my life so much, and I don’t know that I told you enough.
If there’s one thing, just one thing, that I can do, in memory of you, it’s to make sure I treasure every moment – friends, family, work (oh man, you should see our Nerf fights) – and I do my best with what I can.
But I still remember seeing you, through the window of the coffee shop, reading a poetry book, and I said “I have to go in and talk to him, because he obviously likes poetry and has good taste.”
And I’ve never regretted it. You knew the shy me, the one a lot of people didn’t. And I remember everything… mostly everything. Including the stuff I’ll never tell anyone.
One day we’ll all laugh about this, together, again. I have faith. I have hope.
“And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good;
The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good.”
Say hi to Walt for me, Joe. Ask him all the questions that we always wondered. Even if you can’t tell, at least you’ll know. And we can all fill it in someday.