Still Making His Presence Known

18 Feb

As I stood in a daze greeting the long line of friends and family at Jeff’s wake, one of our church’s most active members pulled me close to him and, in very measured and clear words, said the following: “over the next few months, Jeff is going to make himself known to you, both in subtle ways that perhaps only you and your family will recognize, but also in ways that everyone who knows him will recognize.  So be on the lookout for him.  I promise you it will happen.”  What a crock of shit, I remember thinking at the time.  I thought it was a stupid thing for someone to say in an attempt to make me feel that, in my darkest hour, I hadn’t totally lost my son forever. He would make himself known to me somehow.  Give me a break.  That was on November 12th, 3 days after Jeff died.

So there I was, just two days later on Sunday, November 14th, staring at but certainly not watching the Giants-Cowboys game, a big divisional game that just a few short days earlier, I was sure Jeff and I would be watching together in our upstairs TV room where we had taken in countless games together over so many years.  Drew had headed back to school, Brett was trying to concentrate on homework, and Carey is not a football fan, so I was alone in my grief and depression. In my semi-comatose state, I heard the announcer say that the Giants were down 19-6 at halftime and that they looked awful.

And then it happened.  After the very first play of the second half, Jeff had clearly seen enough.  At exactly 6pm on Sunday November 14th, there was a flash and several sections of lights atop the stadium went dark.  The new Meadowlands Stadium was in semi-darkness.   Nonetheless, after a brief delay, they decided to play on without half the lights.  Two plays later, Jon Kitna of the Cowboys hit Felix Jones with a screen pass that turned into a ridiculous 71 yard touchdown and a 26-6 Cowboys lead.  Jeff must have been beside himself with anger, because 5 plays later, the remaining stadium lights went out.  The Meadowlands was PITCH BLACK.  Jeff Klein had turned out the lights on the Giants-Cowboys game.  He could not watch this dismal Giants performance any more.  There is no other plausible explanation.  Yes, I know it was a new stadium, but this was not an early season game.  This was their 5th regular season home game, and any new stadium kinks had long ago been worked out.  Jeff was pissed, plain and simple, and so he turned out the lights.  That was the first clear sign that his spirit was alive and well.

And here’s a broadcast clip from when it happened-Joe Buck and Troy Aikman sound stunned, but if they knew Jeff….

The next sign ?  The winter of 2010-11.  Snow.  Record amounts of it.  Snow days.  Let me explain: Sure, all kids love and pray for snow days, but Jeff took the excitement of anticipating, praying for and enjoying snow days to a whole other level.  He craved them, lived for them as a kid, and even tracked storms on  To give you a sense of how big a kick he got out of the whole snow day phenomenon, he even tracked storms when he moved back home after college to try to predict when Brett would have a snow day.  He would even slip a note with the good news under Brett’s door before leaving for work  And perhaps his biggest snow day thrill came when he was a young adult when his employer, Weil Gotschall, actually closed the firm for a snow day during the late February blizzard last year.  He was downright giddy when that happened.  Given all this, there is not a doubt in my mind (and Carey is 100% convinced too)  that Jeff has had a hand in the incredible snowfall totals and numbers of snow days this winter.  January 2011 set the record for snowfall totals in NYC, breaking the record that was previously set in 1925.  There were 7 snow days in Chappaqua in that one month alone.  This is no coincidence, folks.  Carey and I have no doubt that he has been involved in making it happen.

Brett & The Snowman in the Blizzard of 2010

And if all of the above isn’t convincing enough, the most recent evidence of Jeff’s presence turned up in the Horace Greeley High School gym on the evening of February 8th.   It will be known as The Shot.  And no, Jeff’s friends, I’m not referring to a strong drink, which is the first thing you’d think of when the word “shot” appears anywhere near Jeff’s name.  No, here’s the story of The Shot.   Brett is an outstanding basketball player, yet he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to play during this year’s varsity season.  That is, until February 8th.  He had been playing extremely well in the practices leading up to that game, and so the coach finally gave him a chance.  And Brett proceeded to “go off”, as they say in the basketball world.  He lit up the gym with his performance, scoring 19 points (including 4 for 5 from three point range) to lead Greeley to a come-from-behind victory over Harrison.  The story can be found here:

Of Brett’s six baskets, five were perfect swishes.  Then there was The Shot, which occurred in the 4th quarter when the game was tight.  Brett launched another 3. this one  more of a line drive with less arc than the others.  It hit the back of the rim hard, then ricocheted off the front of the rim, and 99% of the time a shot like that would have surely rattled out of the hoop.   But this time the ball just kind of hung in the air over the hoop, almost as if it was deciding where to go next.   In an instant if fell straight down with some force, as if thrust through the net by an invisible hand.  Oh, an invisible hand ?  Wonder who that could have been.  Jeff always adored his little brother, and there was no way he was about to let the ball rattle out.  In the car on the way home that night, Brett and I discussed The Shot, and he readily agreed that Jeff took care of that one.  Once again, there was no other plausible explanation.  Here is a Youtube clip of The Shot.  You be the judge:

And last but not least came the dream.  I have literally prayed every day since his death for Jeff to come and talk to me in a dream.  I mean, people dream about their loved ones all the time, right ?  I thought it was a reasonalbe request.  But for nearly 3 months, there was nothing.  Zilch.  Until last week.  It was the most vivid dream I have ever had.  My dream started with me on our cordless phone .  While talking, I looked out the front door and saw a police car pull into the driveway.  Two police officers carried Jeff out of the car, one holding him under the armpits and one holding him by the feet.  To my horror, they dropped him at our front door and left.  When I opened the door, he was alive and conscious, looking straight up at me with a face that was scratched and bloodied.

I looked at him straight in the eyes and screamed pleadingly, “Jeff, you CAN’T leave me.”  He looked right up at me, and in a respectful yet firm tone, he said, “Dad, I can do whatever I want.  It’s my choice.”  And with that, I woke up and the dream was over.  I was distraught, because I desperately wanted the conversation to continue, to learn more, but it was not to be.  The dream was, however, crystal clear, and so was his message.   Jeff made a choice based on what he alone felt inside.  None of us will likely ever understand or make sense of it, and I will need to come to grips with that some day.  But my prayers were answered, and he did speak to me, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.   It is further proof that he is still with us and communicating.

Until now, I have spent so much of my time searching for answers that don’t exist.  Perhaps, though, if Jeff continues to periodically make his presence known to us in these ways, I can soon refocus my energy and thoughts to looking forward to those times when I see something happen and can say to myself with a smile, “There’s my boy.”


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