i hart jeff…

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so I’ve been checking out some other blogs lately and I’ve seen a number of people who are remembering loved ones who have passed on to the great unknown. and it got me to thinking about my cousin jeff who passed away in february of this year at the age of 41 after a long battle with asthma and various heart problems. i’ll never forget the day he died… i had one of the hardest days at work and had the worst time getting home, i think it took me about 2-3 hours on the snowy roads. when i got home and went upstairs to the kitchen my mother was crying and proceeded to tell me that jeff had passed away. what????????? i know i heard her say the words, but it didn’t even really digest with me… i didn’t cry, didn’t even really react, just kept saying i couldn’t believe it. we went on that week going to my cousin’s house to help with the funeral planning and i was commissioned to do the funeral program. this by far was the most personal project i had ever done. and to say designing that funeral program was a surreal experience is an understatement. every few hours while working on it i would look at a picture of him and just shake my head in disbelief… but that would only last a moment and then i would go on with my designing duties, busying myself with details so i didn’t have time to think about the reality of the situation. and the funeral was plagued by one of the worst snowstorms i’ve seen in a while in chicago, but thankfully people still came out in good numbers to honor his life… and while i saw his body laying in state there, i still couldn’t bring myself to cry, i just felt numb…

and it’s really been strange with my even since then. he’s been on my mind a lot lately especially since atl was one of the places he lived and loved living in, and we had just been having discussions on me moving here, where i should live and all of that. and i knew that he was very proud and excited about me coming to design school, which he never really told me directly, but i happened to find out from his mother. but that was how things were with him and i think that’s why this whole thing has been strange for me. i obviously knew jeff and he was my cousin, but sometimes i don’t feel like i REALLY KNEW him. i hung around him and my cousin judy much more when i was younger, but as i got older, we would basically just see each other for holidays and maybe over the summer, but i guess that didn’t matter to me because i always knew he was there. and i think that’s what is hard for me to accept sometimes is that he is just not THERE anymore. when the holidays roll around or when we have any family gatherings, his presence will not be in existence and he had a mighty presence. it was the same thing with my uncle who died when i was 13. they were the same type of person… THOSE CANCER MEN! extremely private, impatient, but brilliant, crazy, silly, and lovers of life… but not very good caretakers of their own health. and they both could fill a room with their presence just by being there, not even saying a word. when people like that leave your life, there is a void you can’t even explain.

so life is going to be interesting without jeff… i’ve given some of my feelings here about the matter, but to really tell it all would take me a lot more space that this blog would allow for! but i have to admit, i have had a few moments since i’ve been in atl, a few times when i have finally broken down and let the tears flow… it’s healthier to let that go i know. i try not to think about it too much because it does make me sad and even sitting here in the coffee shop blogging about it, i’m fighting back some tears. but i believe jeff is still around in spirit. sometimes i truly do feel like i can feel him pushing me to keep doing better and really be who i should be in life. but it still doesn’t change the fact that i would give anything to see him in person just one more time. death is so funny too… you literally will not see that person ever again in life. and sometimes people take that for granted. it’s sad that we don’t really have time to really spend with our family and loved ones. we keep going and going and going and being busy while life passes on by and before you know it you lose someone who you never thought would go. and the truth is i wish i would have gotten to know jeff a bit more, especially when i got older. i mean we talked more in the past couple of years and we had a great opportunity to spend more time together when he worked close to me at my old job, but i didn’t push for us to do those lunches together or talk more on the phone. and i know we were both busy, but i wish i would have stepped away from the office and gone down the street just to see him and chat… nothing special, but just have that moment of relating… but of course that is all in hindsight and again i could go on about that for days… the flip side, and the reality, is that i do believe in the afterlife and i dp believe that i will see jeff again. until then, i want you to know that i love you cuz.

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