with one smile

On August 4th, my old friend JG passed away very suddenly.

I keep feeling the need to quantify ‘old friend’ by stating that we were never close-close friends, and that I hadn’t been in touch with her for a few years, but screw that: her death has deeply affected many of my friends, and I cared about her, and in the end it doesn’t matter how well I did or did not know her.  She’s gone, and I’m sad, and I wish she hadn’t left.

On Sunday, I drove down to her memorial service in Hamden, CT.  Much of the memorial revolved around how deeply JG loved music.  She grew up with my best friend Jenne, with whom she was friends since the second grade.  The two of them started singing together shortly after they met, and continued to play out at Café  9 in New Haven, and various other locales, up until a few years ago.

Jenne gave a beautiful, brutally honest speech at the service.  She talked about how JG had taken her under her wing and told her to stop cutting her hair ‘like Elvis Presley’ and made her practice her guitar.  She told funny stories, like how they went through a phase of trying to stay up all night talking on the phone, and they’d inevitably fall asleep at three in the morning listening to the sound of the other one’s snoring.  She also said that if she could see JG right now, she’d punch her in the face, because her death was so senseless and retarded (her words).  It was one of the most honest and heart-wrenching tributes I’ve ever heard.  Jenne’s ability to speak of the decades-long love for her friend, as well as the raw anger over her untimely passing, was incredibly brave.  Jenne ended with a song that the two of them used to sing together which, as she pointed out, she has to sing alone from now on.

I am not a musician, so I honored JG in my own way.  JG had a lifelong passion for rescuing miniature greyhounds, and she and her partner of nine years had a number of them, all with funny names and all neurotic in their own hysterical ways (I’ll never forget Miles, the nervous slow-humper).  So as a tribute to my friend and her devotion to animals, I made this painting for her partner.  She said she would put it next to the argyle sock critter (named Argyle) that I made for JG years ago.

When I got in my car after the service, Patty Griffin’s “Heavenly Day” came on shuffle.  My first reaction was that it was a cruel irony, as there was nothing heavenly about that day, but the more I listened to it, the more peace it brought me.  Because what more could you wish a departed friend than a heavenly day?  (Plus, as I discovered when searching for this video, Patty Griffin wrote the song about her dog; it couldn’t be more perfect).  So please enjoy this song in memory of an amazing woman.

Rest in peace, friend.  I wish you an eternity of heavenly days, filled with music and neurotic little miniature greyhounds.

Lyrics:

“Heavenly Day”

Oh heavenly day, all the clouds blew away
Got no trouble today with anyone
The smile on your face I live only to see
It’s enough for me, baby, it’s enough for me
Oh, heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
Here’s a little time we can borrow
Forget all our troubles in these moments so few
All we’ve got right now, the only thing that
All we really have to do
Is have ourselves a heavenly day
Lay here and watch the trees sway
Oh, can’t see no other way, no way, no way
Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

No one at my shoulder bringing me fears
Got no clouds up above me bringing me tears
Got nothing to tell you, I’ve got nothing much to say
Only I’m glad to be here with you
On this heavenly, heavenly, heavenly, heavenly
Heavenly day, all the trouble’s gone away
Oh, for a while anyway, for a while anyway
Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day

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This entry was published on September 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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