Sunday, September 15, 2013

Goodbye for now.

I'm sitting here trying to think if there has ever been a time in my life more trying and downright sorrowful as the past 5-6 weeks. At the same time, despite the profound loss of my only brother, I've had the opportunity to experience the incredible kindness of friends, and witness an outpouring of love from a packed hall in Northeast Minneapolis at my brother's memorial service this past Tuesday.
My brother's ashes (in a 45 carrying case) at his memorial service
The memorial was assembled by Jay's (and my) oldest, closest friends. I was so impressed by the dedication, time, and heart that our friends put into this memorial. The service kicked off (and concluded) with the fantastic Edison High School Alumni Marching Band, who contacted me soon after Jay's passing. How perfect, I thought, for a marching band (which Jay marched with himself for many summers) to perform at this memorial. They set the proper tone for the proceeding hour.

My husband Leo and I each did a reading; Leo's was biblical, while mine was a portion of Todd Rundgren's "Healing", a song from an album that Jay recommended to me earlier this year. I was feeling all poised, confident, and composed just before approaching the mic, but it didn't take long for me to crumble into a poor man's version of Cher at Sonny Bono's memorial.
WORDS performing at my brother's service (pic by D. Engebretson)
I choked my way through the reading before being rescued by my WORDS bandmates, humbly launching into our first live performance in nearly 15 years (The Beatles' "In My Life" and my bro's fave song, Bread's "If"). For a few short minutes we paid tribute to a brother and best friend through music (one of the great loves of his life). At the same time I was allowed to drift into the space created by our instruments and vocal harmonies. It was a moment of bliss amidst weeks of chaos and tragedy.

Jay (also a musician) played for over 25 years with his own band Popbang!, who performed Semisonic's "Closing Time" in his remembrance (with me sitting in on bass). Finally, the marching band put a perfect blue & gold bow on the event with Edison's school song, which brought the entire room to their feet.

Our goal for the afternoon was to remember Jay by celebrating his life, which is what he would have preferred, but tears were inevitable. There was much laughter, joy, sadness, you name it. There was also a strong sense of community - something both Jay and I valued as natives of Northeast Minneapolis. Leo and I left for home that day feeling loved and supported, knowing that we helped in giving Jay a sendoff worthy of his approval.

RIP, bro. You packed a lot of living into 48 short years. I hope you know how much you are loved.

This pic of Jay and me pretty much sums up our lifelong friendship.
We thought we were hilarious.


poodletail said...

What a wonderful send-off for Jay, Jeff. Your family remains in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

I just found out today of your brother's passing and I wanted to pass along my deepest sympathy to you and Leo.
Jay loved you so very much.
I'd like to speak with you privately if possible so if there is an email address that I may contact you, please let me know.