I was lucky enough to know my best friend Jaye, for his entire 21 years of life, though early on I was not always aware that he was my best friend. I confess that I was the one who made him eat sand when he was 3. He fattened my lip in our last fight at the age of 13, with a flash of knuckled rage that to this day I still can’t see. And when the sound of his drum cymbal crashing, came in the middle of the night two years later, it was I who found him in his room. He was convulsing while giving the audible clue of struggled breath and the visual cues of un-oxygenated blood. When questioned by the medics on the way to the hospital about his potential drug use, Jaye wearily took the oxygen mask from his face, and uttered “Drugs are for losers”. Jaye went from being my sweet, hey-soos incarnate, talented bro, and over night became my sweet, hey-soos incarnate, talented, epileptic bro.
Even with meds, the electronic system which conducts the human body would sink up and discharge in unison. Thus he would go through the ritual of a grand mal seizure. During one of these seizures, the seizing seemed to last forever. And once over, we could not get Jaye to come out of “the fog”. He didn’t know where he was and kept calling out for “daddy”. My Dad, my Mother, and I huddled around him and I suddenly started singing our childhood lullaby “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there’s just something about that name…”. He not only settled down and appeared to feel safer; he even started to mumble/sing along.
I did my best to support him for the next couple of years as he warred against the betrayal of his body. You could see the denial, pain, and fear he carried if you knew where to look. The world had jumped him coming out of the gate and he battled to defeat the super villain inside. His resolve to deal with reality suddenly hit him senior year and he started to shine even brighter. He was a popular star soccer player, who hated the crowds. And was amazing at loving the losers in his life. My bro found the needy kids in school and raised them up. Sacrificed for them, and made them stronger. He also had the ability to make you laugh till you cried, boy humor or PT (Parental Unit) appropriate, you laughed your head off (kur plop) with Jaye around.
I was ill prepared when 4 years later, I woke to find my Father on my door step. He was 700 miles from my town of origin of which he and my mother still reside. He greeted me with the following words, which I will remember with clarity for the rest of my life “It’s not your mom, it’s Jaye”.
I learned that Jaye had come home after a twelve hour shift at Micron. After hanging out with his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend for a while, he headed off to take a shower. Jaye was found forty minutes later; face down in a tub full of water. We speculate that he seized while showering, foot kicked the drain, and he drowned before he could come out of “the fog”. Jaye died on June 28th 2005, twenty days after my 24th birthday.
I flew home and we waited a week for family to get into town before doing the memorial. During this time I spent 14-19 hour days compiling a memorial video out of all the old VHS tapes we had. I also went into the studio (did I mention that we are a crazy talented family and that Jaye and I rocked in a band for 3 years prior to my marriage and move to Oregon?) and recorded the last song (more of a lullaby really) that I had written. I had sung this song over the phone to Jaye on June 3rd 2005. Jaye asked me “Why the sad lyrics”. I said “Couldn’t tell ya, guess I don’t know I’m sad yet.” I used this song with two others to compose a medley in C for the memorial video. The lyrics are as follows.
“With day to the left side, and night to the right
Dawn’s taking Day’s side and Dusk’s taking Night’s
A star field audience’s solar applause
Filling the celestial coliseum
Pulling passion from sinew and strength from old bones
Aching from a want of a slumber unknown
Clock wheel patterns in motion to end
Sight of the death throws as they begin
to love is to lose”