J. P. Slota - by Peg
Article ID: 6216
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 5,014
Times Read: 10,715
Type of Passage: Death
Date of Passage: March 13th. 2003
Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 16th. 2003
Times Viewed: 10,715
I hope the readers of this will forgive me, but the only way to write this is to say it all directly to you.
My friend, where are you?
| Dozens of Photos: Jason has a incredible memorial up over at www.firetribe.com with some wonderful pictures and an option for you to leave your thoughts. - thanks Jason. |
How can I go on without you? Your smile, your loving friendship, your sure-footed way of walking through life? How could you leave so many of us behind, lost without you?
How can it be, that we won't be camping together at Brushwood this summer, and every summer? How can it be you won't come to my Yule party next year? How can it be that we'll never eat breakfast together in The Corral again, you with your customary corned beef hash, me wondering why they always run out of whole-wheat toast? How can it be, you'll never again ask my advice about which shirt to wear with this kilt? How can it be, I'll never see your face in the audience when I'm performing, always smiling and supportive and always acting like it's a special occasion? How can it be, we won't sit in your campsite anymore on a hot July evening, having finished dinner and watching the glorious sunset clouds roll in, sharing dirty jokes and bad impersonations and juicy gossip over coffee? How can it be, we won't have endless meandering conversations in your car anymore, on the way to pick up camping supplies (both practical and decadent: citronella oil and single malt scotch), talking all the while about music, magic, books, people, food, travel, sex, the past, the future, now? How can it be, you won't ever again send me a silly card on my birthday, or at Valentines Day, or Samhain? How can it be, you won't ever again be there with a kind word, or a smile that says everything?
My friend, where are you? Is this another of the practical jokes you're famous for?
Someone called you the Lord of Misrule and oh, it's true! Coyote is not more cunning when it comes to planning the perfect "gotcha!" I always loved your talent for this: elaborate schemes designed to bring laughter to many and even to the targets of the jokes. But because you knew people so well, you always chose ways of teasing that could never be construed as mean-spirited. We let you poke fun in your inimitable way because we knew you'd only do this with people you loved and respected, and who you knew they were loved and respected. Like when your niece could not join us at Brushwood last year because she had to go to summer school and you had all your friends help you fill out dozens of postcards, basically saying "Having a wonderful time, wish you were here!" and mailing a few out every day. Yes, a delicious bit of gentle cruelty. But designed to help her realize she needed to work harder in school. Or how about the endless variations you came up with for "tormenting" one young friend who had developed a habit of, shall we say, falling asleep in odd places. Deep sleep, such that he could not be awakened even when various things were done to alter his looks and mobility while he slept. Oh, my, yes, some of these were priceless. You took the photos to prove it! But he knew (because you meant all along to teach him this) that if he took better care to get sufficient sleep, he would not be a target for these tricks. Then there was the time you knew that a certain young lady would probably have a, shall we say, blood-pressure-raising response, when she was told of a certain shocking (but funny) conversation concerning her father and a male friend. Knowing this response might be too precious not to have recorded for posterity, you made sure to record it with digital photography. Yes, your teasing was born of love. But that wide grin and easy laughter let everyone know it was also born of a passionate sense of humor, one we all found irresistible.
My friend, we laugh now when we talk of you. But we cry as well, so many tears, so much sadness, such shock and anger and emptiness. Where are you?
Don Waterhawk tells me your death is a gift. That in this way we can learn and know the true nature of friendship. Because you, J.P., you ARE friendship, in its deepest sense. Ready to lend a helping hand, a kind word, hard work, loving thoughts, anything that is needed, yes. But more than that, your constancy and integrity are effortless. It's simply who you are. And you expect a lot from people, because you are someone who naturally gives everything of himself. I can only say this in the present tense. I cannot believe you are gone.
My friend, it is so very hard to see this parting, this loss, this wound, as a gift. But to love you and see your friendship as a gift, to hold that gift in my heart, that is easy.
I will remember you warmly, and honor you by cherishing the thousands of wonderful moments I was so fortunate to share with you. These moments, the tiniest, silliest of them, have been flooding through me in the last few days. I feel like there is some sort of carousel in my head, and for fleeting moments here and there the things I see are beautiful, but then the ride always brings me back to the one place I would rather not be: a world without you in it.
But I hope you will forgive me, for being angry at the universe, and sad and sorry for myself, even though I know in my heart you are in a better place. Forgive me for the perverse thoughts I have had lately, where I imagine everything will continue as it was, and that this is simply an extended nightmare that I will awaken from soon. I daydream: a cure for cancer has been found, and in time to save you. I fantasize: your doctors administered Chinese herbs and various holistic measures, juices and tonics, meditations and visualizations, and slowly, surely, you improved and got better. You grew old, you watched children become young adults who made you proud... and then you became a mischievous uncle and loving mentor to their children.
I watched you in your last hours, and knew you would slip away soon, and still I wanted to keep you here, and I know you understand the selfishness that grief brings. Do you need all that strength you had, where you are now? True to your nature, I think you must have gifted some of it to your loved ones as you departed. Because sometimes I feel it rise in me, for a fleeting instant. How else could we go forward?
I will try to be who you knew me to be. I will try to have the faith in myself that you did.
Oh, my friend, where have you gone?
I will remember, always:
That impish grin, that creaked wider just before you let loose with the bawdiest joke any of us had heard all week. That keen perception you had for knowing exactly what to say, and when, and when to keep silent, during times of difficulty where others found themselves grasping for words. That downright eerie knack you had for always producing exactly the right tool for the job, and often within seconds. The childlike glee apparent when you showed off a new kilt, or cloak, or suit of armor, and the scarily-intense concentration that went into the buttoning, lacing, tying and arranging of some of the most decadent fashion ensembles ever see by bonfirelight. The raucous goodwill and fellowship found every night as friends gathered beneath your silver tarp, lit up like a forest carnival. That slightly-demonic look you had in the morning, before hitting the shower. That easy grin of satisfaction that appeared after the first cup of coffee. The lively and heartfelt conversations you were never too busy to have. Your rock-solid earth energy, so comforting to so many. Your astounding generosity, offered quietly and consistently and boundlessly. Your shimmering intellect, profound and mercurial and capable. Your integrity. Your compassion. Your empathy. Your ecstatic love of life.
All this. All this! We remember. You are not gone from our lives, my friend. You burn brightly in our hearts, flaming red. Yours is the smile imprinted on our souls. We grieve to be apart from you now, but when we meet again, there will be such joy, such laughter, such friendship, again! And we know you'll be there, with an extra camp chair unfolding and a cold beer in your outstretched hand, offered with a smile.
Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
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