Spring 2018: I remember coming to the beach when you got sick. I remember looking out over her vast horizon and being so angry that it had to be you. It was almost like she was at fault. Out of all the billions of people she touches and dazzles with her beauty, she chose to take you.
Summer 2019: I came back today. You’ve been gone for 9 months, but with every crashing wave it feels like you’re here. The lullaby of her curls surrounds me with your soul. It’s overcast and cold matching the atmosphere in my heart, but the breeze wraps me in an unexplainable warm comfort, like I’m not sitting here alone. It’s deep and it’s consuming, and its undeniably you.
9.21.2019: I sat down to create a touching video that would honor your memory. I was eager to create something memorable that would not only commemorate your life, but a piece that would evoke memories for guests and remind them of their significance to you. I overlooked how hard this task would be. Scouring the pictures was bittersweet; the memories made me smile, but then the fog would clear and reality elicited tears. Sorting through the videos was almost cruel; they encapsulate all of you as if you are still here. The final touches of laying in the music was emotionally harrowing. Music can stir such powerful and passionate emotions. In Loving Memory of Joe
9.27.2019: Dread. It may sound harsh but I’m dreading the very celebration you asked for. Celebrating simply doesn’t suit the way my heart feels. I know logically the closure will be healthy and we all need to experience it to aid in the healing. Emotionally, I’m not ready for closure. This celebration has been looming over us for almost a year now, without it happening it almost feels like you aren’t all the way gone just yet. Once it’s over, it feels like the loss of you will be more vivid.
9.29.2019 “Celebration of Life”: There were tears, there were laughs, there were memories shared, and drinks raised to you. In a way it felt like losing you all over again, however being surrounded by all the lives you touched was heart warming. You deserved that. When my dad creatively honored you by writing his speech from your perspective it was as if the world had stopped turning and everyone stood still together in a moment of time. It was exactly what Joey would have done. “To you All – my family and friends: To all of my friends living in Cazadero or in and around the Russian River: I consider you all, my friends and my family. There so many awesome memories of sharing hospitality and coming together as a community in good and in bad. I will always love you! To My CYO Friends: You all gave me some of the best times of my life. We are life long friends forever. My favorite memories are as a life guard and of course the between session breaks were epic, especially at Crows Nest. Oh, also, It was not me who stole the Coors Beer from the Vatican, you know who it was, his name either starts with a J or a C (although I think both were involved). To my Dad: I know that you are here and that you have some kind of cocktail in your hand (Grandpa had a fresh martini in his hand, how fitting) and to my mom, who I am with at this very moment: You molded me into the man I am and I will be forever grateful. You taught me right from wrong and how to be strong, regardless of what life throws at you. I want you both to know that I made it and it’s because of you two. To my brother Michael: I do not believe that I have ever met someone more genuine than you. You stayed true to yourself and I admire you greatly. I especially absolutely love your laugh; straight from the heart and so contagious. I love you my big brother. To my brother Ronnie: There is no question that you are my most favorite (please do not tell Jeff – he will whine like a little baby.) I had my most favorite times when Fiona and I would pick you up for the Holiday’s, so, so fun. You always inspired me to become a better person, always. Thank you Ronnie, I love you. OH! One more thing Ronnie; It was Jeff’s idea, not mine, to shave half of your mustache off. I know that he always blamed me. To my brother Rob: I am so proud to be your big brother – always there, always around. I had so much fun having you, Vince and Donna around to mess with. Hey, was it you that lost our contest (picking a number 1 to 100) for going to the movies with John and me? I feel so bad about that haha. I love you bro. To my brother Vince: Do not let anyone tell you that YOU DO NOT look and sound just like Harry Potter. I’m pretty sure you’re the same height as well. Seriously though, I am so happy that you met Chris; I’m thinking these may be the happiest times of your life. Love every moment. You’re the best my little brother, I love you To my sister Donna: No one can tell me that you are not my favorite sister :). Without question, you are special and I mean that in the most sincere way. You are without a doubt one of the most stubborn and hard-headed people on earth. You are also one of the most determined and creative people I have ever met. I can see that you have put all that wood you STOLE from me to good use. I could not be more proud of you, I will love you forever. To my cousin John Lang: Easily, you are and will always be one of the most special people in my life We had so many great memories and I thank you so much for visiting me at the end. To all of my Cousins, Aunts and Uncles: Thank you all for being here, some of you drove a very long way. I want you to know that I think of you all often and even though long periods of time sometimes separated us, it never once eroded the closeness and love that we have for each other. To Bill and Sheryl: Perhaps what I am most grateful for is how you supported Fiona all the way to end and beyond. I am so blessed to have friends like you. To Sarah and Andrew: Whether you know or not, I look upon you as if you were my own – so different, yet so the same – I have loved and cherished every moment we have spent together. To my brother Jeff: I need to apologize. I always told you that I loved your Bloody Mary’s; to be honest, they were terrible……okay, maybe not absolutely terrible, but you could definitely use some lessons. Seriously though, we had so much fun growing up together, not many brothers can say they became and remained best friends forever. I wish nothing but happiness for you and Sherri. To my wife Fiona: Believe it or not, you taught me some really cool swear words. I actually learned words from you and Sarah that I had never even heard before. With my whole heart and soul, I thank God that you entered my world. You easily gave me the best 10 years of my life and nobody could ask for more than that. I’m so glad that you accepted me and my crazy family. If I never told you, you were my Rock, my foundation, my whole world. I ask that you keep our memories close, but please do not be afraid of the future. I love you.
9.30.2019 Trying to find the silver lining of your death seems impossible. I’m so beyond grateful for the time I did get to spend with you. What I wouldn’t give for just a little bit more, a few more memories to deepen the connection. In my heart, you and Fiona were my safety net. If anything were to ever happen to my parents, I found security in knowing I’d have you both. I wish I would have expressed that comfort to you. In the wake of your death I guess I can say I’m closer to family, especially my aunts. I’ve cried in front of them far more times than I’m comfortable with, I’ve also used all my might to hold back tears in their presence more times than I’m proud of. We’ve been more authentic and more connected in recent months. I know the authenticity of our relationship honors your soul. I have consciously let that permeate through all of my relationships; your influence will always guide me.
10.14.2019 I so desperately want to honor your wishes and truly celebrate you surrounded by those who love and miss you dearly. Hopefully, in time, our hearts will be able to cheers you with laughter and celebrate the goodness of your soul in a manner thats in the spirit of celebration.